Madinat Al-Zahra: A Significant Early Islamic Archaeological Site in Spain (936-1010)

The Umayyads Dynasty in Spain (675-1031) reached the peak of its power at the time of the caliph Abd al-Rahman 111 (929-961). The caliph Abd al-Rahman 111 initiated the construction of the city in 936 and after his death in 961, his son, Al-Hakam 11 conti

The Umayyads Dynasty in Spain (675-1031) reached the peak of its power at the time of the caliph Abd al-Rahman 111 (929-961), who decided to construct number of buildings and projects to express his power as well as the wealth of his dynasty such as Madinat Al-Zahra (936-1010). The caliph Abd al-Rahman 111 initiated the construction of the city in 936 and after his death in 961, his son, Al-Hakam 11 continued the work in the city as well as the completion of the great mosque of Cordoba. In 1010, Medinat Al-Zahra, which was once the symbol of the caliph’s power, and flourished for approximately 80 years was destroyed by rebellious Berber clans from North Africa. The city was buried for almost 900 years, and in the late 19th century, the city was rediscovered and excavations began in 1911.

Image credit:

Image credir:

Madinat Al-Zahra lies about 13 kilometers Nort-West of the city of Cordoba and its site featured a rectangular shape with about 1.52 kilometers length and 745 meters width. The city was intended to be a palace-city, which would house the caliph’s palace as well as the administrative and governmental buildings. Medinat al-Zahra was built on a terraced site below the Sierra Morena area. According to the archeological excavation, the city consisted of three terraces, each one of them was separated from the other by an arcaded wall, and the whole site was enclosed by fortified walls.

 

Image credit:

Image credit:

The palace of the caliph was situated on the top of the higher terrace to be isolated from the other buildings as well as to enjoy the maximum view of the surroundings. The ruins of the palace featured an imposing decorated and ornamented wall spaces and floors covered by mosaic-like tiles. The palace was also characterized by large halls with horseshoe-arches porticoes. On this high location, the palace was intended to be a symbol of the power of the caliph.

 

Image credit:

SalóN Rico, Madinat Al-Zahra

 

Image credit:

The middle terrace was also very important and came second to the caliph’s palace, where it included the government buildings, the caliph’s family members’ palaces, and the reception halls as well as accommodation for important individuals in the caliph’s court. The reception hall was characterized by a large pool, which was a common feature of the palaces of Granada. It was also positioned on the main axis of the city to emphasize its essential role as the main ceremonial hall. Middle terrace was separated from the upper one by a massive horseshow-arches arcade. The lower terrace occupied the market, number of simple dwellings, and the mosque of the city whose design is likely to be inspired by the Great Mosque of Cordoba.

 

Image credit:

Now, Madinat Al-Zahra is considered as one of the most significant early Islamic archaeological sites in the world. Excavations at the city’s site are still ongoing and a museum was built to be the place, where the archaeological findings can be preserved, as well as exhibited. However, about 10 percent of the fortified area of the city has been excavated. In 2010, the museum of Madinat Al-Zahra received the prestigious award of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

References:

  1. Main article image credit:
  2. http://www.akdn.org/architecture/project.asp?id=3732
  3. http://classes.colgate.edu/osafi/images/andalusian_images.htm
  4. http://elliefarr.blogspot.com/2011/02/crusing-around-cordoba.html
  5. http://www.mcah.columbia.edu/ma/htm/dj_islam/ma_dj_image_daj01.htm
  6. http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-photo/uncle_davros/the_world/1228081080/105-salxxn-ricox-madinat-al-zahra.jpg/tpod.html
  7. http://www.upbustleandout.co.uk/1/zahara-de-la-sierra-the-palace-city-of-medina-al-zahra-cordoba-spain.html

30 comments

Add a comment

0 answers +0 votes
Post comment Cancel
Norma MacLennan
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on May 5, 2013
Christy Birmingham
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Jun 7, 2012
deepa venkitesh
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on May 3, 2012
Aunty Ann
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Apr 27, 2012
Sibt-e-Hassan Raja
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Apr 27, 2012
Ron Siojo
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Apr 12, 2012
+Paulose
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Apr 11, 2012
Account Deletion Requested
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Mar 21, 2012
Abdel-moniem El-Shorbagy
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Mar 19, 2012
deepa venkitesh
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Mar 19, 2012
Abdel-moniem El-Shorbagy
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Mar 18, 2012
Roberta Baxter
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Mar 18, 2012
Abdel-moniem El-Shorbagy
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Mar 18, 2012
Patrick Regoniel
1
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Mar 18, 2012
M 5446
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Mar 18, 2012
carol roach
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Mar 18, 2012
Abdel-moniem El-Shorbagy
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Mar 18, 2012
deepblue
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Mar 17, 2012
Kimberley Heit
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Mar 17, 2012
Mervat El-Shafie
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Mar 17, 2012
Donata L.
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Mar 17, 2012
+Paulose
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Mar 17, 2012
Abdel-moniem El-Shorbagy
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Mar 17, 2012
Kaleidoscope Acres
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Mar 17, 2012
Joe Dorish
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Mar 17, 2012
Guimo Pantuhan
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Mar 17, 2012
Abdel-moniem El-Shorbagy
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Mar 17, 2012
James R. Coffey
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Mar 17, 2012
Abdel-moniem El-Shorbagy
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Mar 17, 2012
Phoenix Montoya
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Mar 17, 2012