Medina Azahàra Travel Guide

  • Things to Do
    by euzkadi
  • Things to Do
    by euzkadi
  • Things to Do
    by euzkadi

Medina Azahàra Things to Do

  • Medina Azahara. Puzzle pieces.

    Medina Azahara is something like a huge puzzle, everywhere are capitels and colums waiting to being restored. Archeologists have a big work triying to find the location of some stuff like this interesting capitels forgotten in a lost part of a building.

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  • Buildings under restoration.

    The site is very well indicated, all the most important buildings are easily recognized, but one of the highlights of the place is wandering through the not designated areas, discovering spots and details unknown. We found this small patio with a marble basin not described in the information guide given in the entrance.

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  • Patio of the Pillars.

    A large patio surrounded by square pillars. There´s no indication of the use of the building, but it was part of the private area of the palace located near the Calyphate dwellings.

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  • West wall of the upper gardens.

    This wall was constructed to support the artificial terrace of the gardens, made of rectangular towers, the whole area is under a big restoration work.

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  • Residential area. Viewpoint.

    This viewpoint is located almost at the end of the visit. Located in the eastern side of the site. A good farewell to this opulent city.

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  • Plaza de Armas. Portico.

    The Plaza de Armas was another protocolary entrance, mostly used for military parades. The Portico is really an impressive construction that shows how important was the city. This Portico was the main Façade of the Plaza de Armas building and consisted of 14 arches.

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  • Staff Dwellings.

    This area shows the buildings were the staff of the officials lived, maybe less impressive that the main buildings but a good example of how the normal life in the city was.

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  • House of Yafar.

    The house of a senior official of the Calypt´s administration. Maybe the most beautiful carved façade in the whole city, i really liked this building. Behind the façade there are some small buildings that belonged to the servants of the Official.

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  • Patio of the Basin.

    This square-shaped courtyard is an open Patio, there are some doors connected to letrins. In the center of the patio covered with marble stones there´s a basin made of white marble.

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  • Dwelings of the Alberca.

    This façade belongs to a private house located in the Residential area, is the only structure that has the peculiar Arab style of room organised around a central garden. Again the beautiful horseshoe arches sustained by columns.

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  • Administrative area. Basilical building.

    Just after the viewpoint is located the Basilical building, that consists in a big patio surrounded by five rooms supported by beautiful columns with Arab style motifs. This building was used for protocolary ceremonies. This building is maybe one of the best preserved parts of the complex.

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  • Puerta Norte. Viewpoint.

    After passing the main entrance there are two possible ways to visit the Site turning right are the residential buildings, we took the left one in the direction of the Plaza de Armas, the administrative area. Just after the Gate, there´s a viewpoint that shows you the beggining of the wonderful things that you´ll see.

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  • Puerta Norte. Main Entrance.

    This gate is now the main entrance to the complex, in the X century the main entrance was located in the South gate opposite to this one, so the views of the main Palace were more impressive showing the richness and power of the Calypth.

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  • Abd al-Rahman III building. Garden.

    Finally at the end of the street is located the building that houses the Abd al-Rahman III Hall. The main building is surrounded with beautiful gardens, ponds and fountains all decorated in the typical Arab style.

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  • Abd al-Rahman III Building.

    This is the main Buidling of the site, very well restored it housed the Oriental Salon, this hall was used for political receptions held by the Calypth. The building has three corridors decorated with arches and a main section. The interior is really impressive, i specially liked the stone carved pannels in the walls.

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  • Aljama Mosque.

    This Mosque is located in a lower terrace and is orientated to the South East (looking Mecca). This Mosque was connected to the fortress by a covered bridge (Sabat) only used by the Calypth.

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  • Administrative Area. Ramp.

    After visiting this building we descended a ramp that guides to the Plaza de Armas and it´s Portico.

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  • Basilical Building. Column detail.

    The columns that support the Arab style arches are Corinthian columns, it´s a rare mix between Arab and Roman architecture.

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  • Upper Basilica

    Beautiful, I guess that is a word that I use a lot, need to find some alternatives....But if the Taj Mahal is todays leading architectural structure built for love, then Medinat a-Zahara may well be the middle ages triumph to love. At one time this structure was the governmental center of this city, today in ruins, but you can still see the effort...

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  • Hall of Abd al-Raman

    Here in the Hall of Abd al-Raman the progress of restoration is well underway. During our visit an archeologist was working on the "puzzle", or how to put back together all the thousands of pieces laying on the floor into some semblence of order so that we today could enjoy the splendor that was Medinat a-Zahara before it was destroyed.

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  • West Wall of the Upper Garden

    Also visible from the viewing area at the “House of Ya’Far” you can see the impressive “West Wall of the Upper Garden”. Although it looks like a structure build to defend the Madinat al-Zahra, it’s main purpose is actually more to give support to the hold up the artificial terrace of the Upper Gardens. In the photo you can only see the first part...

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  • The Upper Garden

    If you manage to drag your eyes away from the "House of Ya'Far", which I found quite difficult, I have to admit, you shouldn’t forget to walk to the other side of the street. From here you'll have a really nice overview over the "Upper Garden". The garden is located around 10 metres below the view point allowing for a perfect overview of the area....

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  • House of Ya'Far

    By far the highlight for me of the residential area of the Madinat al-Zahra is the "House of Ya'Far". This house is a good example of a residence of a senior official of the caliph's administration; most likely this was the house of the hayib (prime minister) of the Caliph State from 961 to 972. For me personally the highly intricate plaster...

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  • Finding pieces of the puzzle

    Having slowly worked our way back up the hill we got back at the road crossing which divides up the area of the administrative section of the Alcázar (which we just visited) and the residential part of the Alcázar. In the residential area I was struck by how impressive the work has been with finding and fitting all the pieces of the puzzle back...

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Medina Azahàra Transportation

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    Map to Madinat al-Zahra

    by sim1 Updated Apr 6, 2008

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    The most flexible way to get to the Madinat al-Zahra is by car. But it is possible to get here by public transport as well.

    By bus:
    There is a daily bus towards the historical site, but only once a day, so make sure not to miss it! The bus leaves Córdoba at 11 a.m or 10 a.m. (depending on day of the week and time of the year) and picks up in two places: la Avenida del Alcázar and el Paseo de la Victoria. The bus returns to Córdoba two hours after it arrives in Madinat al-Zahra, which gives you approx. 1,5 hours at the monument. For more detailed information about the bus times and departure points please look at the daily bus to Medina Azahara time table.

    A return bus ticket including an illustrated guidebook of the monument will cost you 6,50 euros (2008). Reservations can be made at the online shop, by phone +34 902 201 774 or dropping by at one of the Tourist Information Points. Attention: it is not possible to buy the tickets in the bus!

    By car:
    Getting to the Madinat al-Zahra by car isn't that difficult and certainly not that far (roughly 8 kilometres). Probably the most difficult part will be the bit at your hotel, to get out and in again from the historical part of town. We asked at our hotel lobby at they gave us some clear driving directions (on a map). Roughly said, from the historical town, try to get on the Avda. Conde Vellellano and continue to the Paseo de la Victoria. Make an exit to the Avda. de Median Azahara and continue to the Periodista Quesadea Chacon. This road will lead you to the Ctra. A Palma Del Rio (C 431). It sounds difficult, but it isn't really. There are signs along the road giving directions towards the Madinat al-Zahra (might be called Medina Alzahara at times as well). When you are well outside of town on the C431 a small road (there is a road sign) exiting to the right will bring you to the archaeological site of Madinat al-Zahra. Parking at the official parking place of Madinat al-Zahra will cost you 0,80 EUR (2008),

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel
    • Archeology

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Medina Azahàra Warnings and Dangers

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    by sim1 Updated Apr 6, 2008

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    The Madinat al-Zahra is a work in progress and archaeologists are hard at work to preserve and discover more of this lost city. This also means that some parts are not open to the public due to a variety of reasons. So be forewarned and don’t be disappointed during your visit if a particular area is closed off. Please respect the work in progress and the work that is being done to discover and conserve this amazing place for the future.

    Examples of areas that are ’temporarily’ closed off are the Vivienda de la Alberca” (The “Dwellings of the Alberca”) and the “Patio de los Pilares” (“The Patio of the Pillars”) around the “house of Ya’Far”. Signs will show you which parts are not accessible and ropes will clarify where you are allowed and not allowed to go.

    Related to:
    • Archeology

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Medina Azahàra What to Pack

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    by sim1 Updated Apr 6, 2008

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    Miscellaneous:
    The weather in the area around Cordoba is said to be sunny quite often, which was more then true during my visit on a wonderful sunny day in early spring (early March). The weather was just perfect for a visit to the Madinat al-Zahra with temperatures hovering just above the 20 degrees and the sun shining brightly.

    Summers can be very very hot though with temperatures rising up to 40C. Be aware that the archaeological site offers very little shade and I can imagine it feeling like a frying pan walking up and down the hill during a hot summer’s day. On the website of the Corboba tourist office you can find an overview of the average weather in and around Cordoba.

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Medina Azahàra Favorites

  • Last tidbits

    Just a few last views to show, the entrance gate leads you to a "lookout" where you can see the Porticio Arches to your left and the Courtyard of the Pillars to your right.As you descend into the city you pass through the upper residence where you see a single room where part of the marble floor has been replaced sort of haphazardly.The last photo...

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  • Just ARCHES

    I don't remember seeing even a single door or portal that was not done with an arch, some like the House of Yafar as seen in the first photo were multiple arches and very fancy. Others, like those in the stables and bath house were simple and less ornate. But even the most simple were done with attention given to every detail, even the most simple...

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  • Porticio Arches

    This was thought to be the main entrance to the city at the time of its highest activity. Even though today you enter from above the city, the Porticio Arches would have provided a perfect entrance from the valley leading up to Medina aZahara.

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