Medina Azahara

Córdoba, Spain

Medina Azahara ('the shining city') is the ruins of a vast, fortified Andalus palace-city built by Abd-ar-Rahman III (912–961), the first Umayyad Caliph of Córdoba. Located on the western outskirts of Córdoba, it was the de facto capital of al-Andalus as the heart of the administration and government was within its walls. In 2018, the site was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Built beginning in 936-940, the city included ceremonial reception halls, mosques, administrative and government offices, gardens, a mint, workshops, barracks, residences and baths. Water was supplied through aqueducts. The main reason for its construction was politico-ideological: the dignity of the Caliph required the establishment of a new city, a symbol of his power, imitating other Eastern Caliphates.

The complex was extended during the reign of Abd ar-Rahman III's son Al-Hakam II (r. 961-976), but after his death soon ceased to be the main residence of the Caliphs. In 1010 it was sacked in a civil war, and thereafter abandoned, with many elements re-used elsewhere. Its ruins were excavated starting from the 1910s. Only about 10 percent of the 112 hectares have been excavated and restored. A new museum on the edge of the site has been built low, with much of the space underground, to minimize disruption to the views of the landscape from the ruins, which are also beginning to be affected by modern housing.



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Córdoba, Spain
See all sites in Córdoba


Founded: 936 AD
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Spain


4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Nora Alnofal (38 days ago)
That is amazing historical place there is pus and show to know about alzahra it is unique
Yuki Tanabe (43 days ago)
Be warned that the main part of this attraction that you often see with the Arabic arches, is currently closed. I made a detour to visit Cordoba just to visit this site, which I wasn't able to visit back in 2014, so it was a big disappointment and a total waste of time and money (€10 return bus fare from the city centre) Having said that, it is still an impressive site to imagine that once here stood a Muslim palace of such grandeur. Unfortunately it does leave a lot to imagination as the site has been destroyed over the years and various parts which once we're parts of the buildings here have been looted and used as buildings material for other buildings scattered across the Mediterranean.
erima rehan (2 months ago)
Great feeling to walk among the old city and imagine life in a different era. Just check weather as there are no rain covers or shelters
Adam Nasraddin (4 months ago)
Such an overwhelming place, thinking about the history and the events that occurred in this place is mind blowing with the remain of the rooms, corridors and the main halls. We had a chat with security guards (a lovely lady called Theresa) she got emotional telling us about the history and how proud she was. She was really helpful and passionate that we all were impressed with her warm chat. The website says that visits ends at 13:00 but actually you can catch the assigned coach at 19:00 to go to the place and then every 10 min (I have posted a photo of their opening hours). The only downside in our visit was that we were not able to visit 90% of the site, they said that the rest should be open next year. There is a a video about the site inside next to the car park were you catch the coach. It is a very informative video which you can also watch on YouTube including checking the remains and stuff recovered from Alzahraa and surrounding.
R Palmer (4 months ago)
Avoid going before scheduled closing. We arrived at 1 pm and was advised at the ticket office to visit the site first (as the shuttle bus between museum and site was running late) and to return to the museum when we returned from the site. We went to the site, which was well worth seeing. When were returned to the museum and ticket office it was 2.35 pm with the site closing at 3 pm. We went to the museum and was told it would close in 20 minutes, which was fine. However, as another set of visitors entered (less than a minute later) they were told it closes in 10 minutes. The steward then started shutting up areas of the museum so we could only see the first display and as a I was the last in the museum (at 2.45) I dashed out as the doors were closing. My advice to the site management is to clearly specify if the museum opening times are different to the site. To future visitors I advise planning to leave the site 30 minutes before the advertised closing.
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