The archaeological site of the old Caliphal city of Madinat al-Zahra

Andalusia, Cordoba, Muslim Travel Blog, See & Do

Madinat al-Zahra

The archaeological site of the Ummayad Caliphate in Cordoba

 

The archaeological site of the old Caliphal city of Madinat al-Zahra is located approximately 5.5 km west of Córdoba, Andalusia, Spain

 

The city was founded in 940 or 941, by the Caliph Abd al-Rahman III as the seat of the newly created Caliphate of Córdoba. However, it was short-lived being destroyed in 1010 during the riots which brought about the end of this Caliphate. After slowly being abandoned and after the Christian occupation, the city fell into oblivion, so much so, that even its very existence was forgotten, thus converting it into an intangible mythical reference to the Golden Age in a faraway western point of Islam.

Madinat al-Zahra is currently part of the Tentative List in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List.

Medina Al Zahra archeological site Cordoba Islamic Heritage

The significance of the archaeological site of Madinat al-Zahra:

The remains of a 10th-century city were hidden and their integrity has been unaltered. The Caliphs, Abd al-Rahman III and al-Hakam II were actually building the most monumental part of the Mosque in Córdoba (declared World Heritage in 1984) at the same time. In fact, the first excavations that took place were started by the architect who was actually restoring the Mosque in Córdoba, Velázquez Bosco. He began this work in order to have more insight into Andalusian Caliphal architecture to be able to better restore the Mosque.

 

Its unique values in the field of art, architecture, town planning and territorial layout. It includes some of the first and most important Islamic gardens ever known, as well as the fact that it represents a testimony, without comparison, of the culture and urban life at a time when al- Andalus was the most important cultural focal point in Western Europe and the Maghreb.

It is a good example of the perfect combination of urban planning with the environment. It is a city with buildings and structured gardens for the population to be able to enjoy the natural characteristics of the surrounding area. This unison with the landscape is shown in the modeling of the territory as well as in the way the local stone, water supply and plants were taken advantage of. The fact that the place has stayed just as it was, affected only by its natural deterioration, without any new con­structions being built, has meant that its value concern­ing its environment, has been conserved.

Its sudden disappearance turned Madinat al-Zahra into a myth. This myth fed rich literature, in which the fortune of a lost paradise was evoked throughout the Arab speaking world.

 

MADINAT AL-ZAHRA MUSEUM

The Madinat al-Zahra Museum has been open since 2009. It is located 1.5 km. away from the archaeologi­cal site and is not visible from the site, thus avoiding any impact on the landscape. Due to the quality of its architecture, the building has in fact been awarded some international prizes. The Museum comprises of reception areas and spaces to explain about the city to the visi­tors: a presentation room, an auditorium, an informa­tion center, etc. There are also areas devoted to the con­tinual conservation and research work carried out by the managing body of the site: restoration workshops, store­houses for goods, a library, research rooms, offices, etc.

 

ORGANIZE YOUR VISIT

Contact
Carretera de Palma del Río, Km. 8 – 14029 Córdoba
General Information: 957 10 49 33
Booking for Visits: 957 10 36 28 / 957 10 36 37
Email: madinatalzahra.ccd@juntadeandalucia.es

Opening times

16 September-31 March:
Tuesday to Saturday: 09.00-17.30
Sunday and public holidays: 09.00-15.30

1 April-15 June:
Tuesday to Saturday: 09.00-19.30
Sunday and public holidays: 10.00-15.30

16 June-15 September:
Tuesday to Sunday and public holidays: 09.00-15.30

The monument is closed on Mondays, 1 and 6 january, 1 may, 24, 25 and 31 december.
Local holidays (opening times 09:00-15:30): 8 September, 24 october.

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