Cordoba Medina Azahara
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Medina Azahara
This love nest built between 936 and 961 is only one of the many cultural monuments that can be seen in the historic Centre of Cordoba, which was inscribed by UNESCO in 1984.

Daily transport service from Cordoba to the archaeological area Medina Azahara, a beautiful palatal city which in its days was the embleme of the power of the Omeyas caliphat. With a complimentary guide book of the monument and the projection of a DVD during
the route.

Booking necessary.

Other data:

Avenida del Alcázar.
Paseo de la Victoria.

902 20 17 74

Tuesday to Friday: 11 h.
Saturday, Sunday: 10 and 11 h.


Situated 10 Kilometers West of Cordoba, in a sugestive site , between the mountains and the plaine, is MADINAT AL-ZAHRA, built by Abd al-Rahman III in 940.Its perimeter sourronded by wallshas arround 112Hc. These city was the residence of the souberain and its court, and also the administration of the StateIt was a symbol of the new political and idelogical order of Al -Andalus under the Independent Caliphate of Cordova Independiente.

0km/6mi west of Córdoba, reached by way of C 431 and a secondary road which in 8km/5mi goes off on the right, stands Medina Azahara, a palace-town built by Abderrahman III from 936 onwards and named after his favorite wife Zahara which is said to have been large enough to house 30,000 people. In 1010 it was destroyed by the Almoravids and thereafter used as a quarry of building material; as a result it is now largely in ruins.

The exquisite palace and formal gardens have been made with hedges of cypress and pomegranate punctuated by strawberry trees, oleasters and oleanders.

Medina Azahara: Salón RicoThe Ruins of Madinat al-Zhara (in Arabic: Madinat al-Zahra, مدينة الزهراء) are located about 5 kilometers from Córdoba, Spain. The ruins were discovered about ninety years ago. Only about 10 percent of the 112 ha site has been excavated and restored. The city flourished for approximately 80 years. It had been built by Abd ar-Rahman III the Caliph of Córdoba starting between 936 and 940. After Abd ar-Rahman III proclaimed himself Caliph in 929, establishing the independent Umayyad Caliphate in the west, he decided to show his subjects and the world his power by building a palace-city 5 miles from Cordoba . The largest known city built from scratch in Western Europe , Madinat al-Zahra was the forgotten Versailles of the middle ages. It would be described by travelers from northern Europe and from the East as a dazzling series of palaces full of treasures never seen before. Around 1010, Madinat al-Zahra was sacked during the civil war that led to the dissolution of the Caliphate of Cordoba.[1] The raid effectively wiped the city off the map for a millennium.

Popular legend holds that the Caliph named al-Zahra, or Azahara, after his favorite concubine, and that a statue of a woman stood over the entrance. Others, imagining his demanding lover, say that he built this new city just to please her. The truth, however, has more to do with politics than love. Abd al-Rahman III ordered the construction of this city at a time when he had just finished consolidating his political power in the Iberian Peninsula and was entering into conflict with the Fatimid dynasty for the control of North Africa.

Mezquita AljamaIt was this moment when he declared himself utterly independent, the true Caliph (Prince of Believers) and descendant of the Umayyad dynasty, which had nearly been completely exterminated by the Abassids in the 9th century. He brought about a series of political, economic and ideological measures to impress upon the world his legitimacy. A new capital city, fitting of his status, was one of those measures.

What is visible of the ruins of Madinat al-Zahra today is only 10% of its extension, forgotten for 900 years. The 112 hectare-urb was no mere pleasure palace for weekend excursions, but the effective capital of al-Andalus , the territory controlled by the Muslims in the Iberian Peninsula from the beginning of the 8th century to the middle of the.11th The magnificent white city, built in steppes into the hillside at the base of the Sierra Morena with the Caliph's palace at the highest point, was designed to be seen by his subjects and foreign ambassadors for miles.

Abd al-Rahman III moved his entire court to Medina Azahara in 947-48. We may imagine that his beloved al-Zahra was already comfortably installed in the new Medinat.

With time the entire city was buried, not to be unearthed until 1911.

The restoration of that portion of the city that has been excavated is very impressive. Excavation and restoration continues, depending upon funding by the Spanish government.


MEDINA AZAHARA, Spain - To hear historians tell it, this buried city three miles west of Córdoba was the Versailles of the Middle Ages, a collection of estates and palaces teeming with treasures that dazzled the most jaded traveler or world-weary aristocrat.

The city was built in the 10th century and sacked around 1010 by Islamic purists from North Africa.
Pools of mercury could be shaken to spray beams of reflected sunlight across marble walls and ceilings of gold, according to contemporary records.

Doors carved of ivory and ebony led to sprawling gardens full of exotic animals and sculptures made of amber and pearls.


"Travelers from distant lands, men of all ranks and professions in life, following various religions, princes, ambassadors, merchants, pilgrims, theologians, and poets all agreed that they had never seen in the course of their travels anything that could be compared to it," wrote the 19th-century historian Stanley Lane-Poole in his book "The Story of the Moors in Spain."

Archaeologists are more hesitant, saying that while many of those marvels may have existed, physical evidence of them has yet to be found. But they, too, are full of superlatives.

"This was the largest city ever built from scratch in Western Europe," covering nearly 280 acres, Antonio Vallejo, the chief archaeologist here, said in an interview. "Most large Western cities grow over time. This was built in a single effort, from a single design."

Medina Azahara, also known as Madinat al-Zahra, was an Islamic metropolis built in the 10th century as a testament to Spain's proclamation in 929 that it was the true caliphate of the Muslim world.

The construction of the city, which began around 940, was a singular moment in history, when the most vibrant intellectual and cultural force in Europe was rooted in Islam, and when the heart of Islam was in many ways rooted in Europe.

But around 1010, Medina Azahara was sacked by Islamic purists from North Africa who considered the Muslim culture it represented far too liberal in its interpretation of the Koran. The raid effectively wiped the city off the map for a millennium.

The historical value of the site is difficult to overstate, he and other scholars say.

Medina Azahara represented a society that, despite its location on a predominantly Christian continent, became in many ways the embodiment of the Islamic world at its peak, when Muslim achievements in fields like science, philosophy and mathematics towered above virtually all others.

That society was called Al Andalus, the Arabic name for the Iberian Peninsula when it was under Muslim control, a period that lasted nearly 800 years, ending in 1492 with the surrender of the last Muslim stronghold in Granada.

María Rosa Menocal, a professor of Spanish at Yale and author of "Ornament of the World," a book about Muslim Spain, said that Al Andalus and its capital, Córdoba, were probably justified in considering themselves the center of the known universe when Medina Azahara was built. "There was no comparison between Córdoba and anything else in Europe in the 10th century - like New York versus well, a rural village in Mexico," she said in an e-mail interview.

Córdoba had running water, paved and lighted streets, and, when large collections of books were scarce in Europe, some 70 libraries, the biggest containing 400,000 volumes, according to some accounts.

Al Andalus introduced Western Europe to paper, algebra, advanced irrigation techniques and Latin translations of many of the classic works of Greek philosophy.

The confluence of Islamic and European heritages is a crucial but often overlooked chapter in world history, scholars contend, and perhaps its greatest exponent is the ruined city that Mr. Vallejo is fighting to preserve.

Medina Azahara "never symbolized anything in European history because virtually no one who was not a part of the Islamic Spain orbit knows/knew anything about it," Ms. Menocal wrote.

Abd al-Rahman III, who founded the city, envisioned it as a showcase of the virtues of Al Andalus and as affirmation of his claim that he was the true caliph of the Muslim world. As the ruler of what was then one of the world's wealthiest civilizations, Rahman not only stocked the city's main palace with luxuries, but also turned it into a bustling emporium of musicians, astronomers, poets, doctors, botanists and mathematicians, historians say.

Its destruction signaled the beginning of the end of the only Muslim culture ever to flourish in Western Europe, and led to the decimation of a unique branch of Islam that had taken root a continent away from the influences of the Islamic centers of the Middle East.









Ten Best Place's to visit in Spain