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what is the difference between a finca and a cortijo

This is  a question that seems to get asked a lot.  The main thing to understand firstly is what a finca is.

Finca in strictly legal terms is Plot, you’ll see this on descriptions of property on the title deed of a property or property registry description.

The Most common ones are:

Finca Urbana: urban plot, meaning a plot of land inside the perimeter of the urban zoning of a municipality.

Finca Rustica: Rural Plot, a plot outside of the urban zoning of a municipality

But in spanish and urban or industrial plot is colloquially  described as “Parcela” Though this is also true if its a small plot of land its flat and generally rectangular in shape.

Finca” is generally used for a decent sized plot of land usually over 2000 m2  that may or may not have a building on it.

Generaly though when somebody calls land a finca in spain they are refering to a smallholding of some sort. You typical finca will be anything from a 5000 m2 plot with a small Workman’s house ( casa de apero, nave agricolaalmacen, etc ), or a larger working farm with a house on it being anything from a one bedroom cottage to a decent sized family house or two and many hectares of land.


Cortijo on the other hand is a large working farm of usually more than 10 hectares  with a farm house building which would include minimum of one main building with two wings giving it a “U” shape. Normally the main house, the guest wing and the stables and warehouse adjoining them leaving a large patio area in the middle. Sometimes these are closed off with a large gate big enough to get animals and materials in through them giving it a fantastic appeal.

For a property to officially be called a Cortijo it should have at least one tower. Though they don’t all have this a lot of them will have and some will have two.

If it has three towers which is far less common, it is called a “Hacienda” or Cortijo, but a Cortijo can never be a Hacienda officially if it does not have three towers. Though of  course properties get redefined all the time, it was this way back in the day.

We have seen a lot of cortijos and haciendas in our time and they can be very different. And some people will even call a rather small “finca” a Cortijo as a  term of endearment. like calling your toy Yorkshire terrier the guard dog.

Here are some examples:

Cortijos       Fincas.

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