Medina Azahara is about 7 kilometers away from the capital, a Palatine City that was built in the middle of the 10th century and only 70 years after its destruction. What we know today are the ruins of a city that Abderramán III had built, as a symbol of the Caliphate of Cordova, and which has recently been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With this decision, Cordova adds a new Unesco World Heritage site to those already hoarded (Mosque, Cathedral, Jewish Quarter and old town, as well as the Courtyard Festival). The visit to the site is obligatory for those who want to know the Muslim history in the Iberian Peninsula, since it was one of the great cities of al-Andalus. Medina Azahara is the largest archaeological site in the country. Among its walls (Alcázar), more than 112 hectares of land with archaeological remains, of which only a third of the total have been excavated. Having a relatively short life of just 70 years and being away from the capital, his remains have not been modified by other cultures. After its destruction, the city was abandoned until the beginning of the twentieth century began its study, reconstruction and enhancement. With its reconstruction, still not very advanced, unknown decorative techniques of this era are discovered, which opens a large field for archaeological research.
Details of its construction
The materials used for the construction of Madinat al-Zahara are the yellowish sandstone, of local origin and similar to the material with which the Mosque of Cordova was built.
Another of the materials used was white marble, in this case from Portugal, with which columns and capitals were made, sometimes alabaster also came to be used. Many of its walls were white coated and decorated in red, the violet limestone used in some areas gave the monument a spectacular contrast of colors.
The palatine city had running water, taking advantage of a previous Roman canal. The connection with Cordova had up to three bridges to save the streams in the area. One of them is the Walnut Bridge, which has survived to this day.
Medina Azahara's story
With Abderramán III begins the story of Medina Azahara, after deciding its construction in an enclave far from the city of Cordova, and thus demonstrate to the world the power of his Caliphate. To get a city with different heights, the terrain is exploited, with Sierra Morena to the north and the Guadalquivir valley to the south.
The upper level was the noble zone, where government work was carried out and where the residence of the Caliph was located, called the abode of power (al-mulk). On the contrary, the lowest part is where their citizens live and the daily tasks are carried out. Madinat al-Zahara (bright city) became an urban center of beauty as there was no other at the time, was built to give an example of the splendor of the Caliphate of Cordoba and al-Andalus.