Medina Azahara

By the Editors of the Madain Project

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Medina Azahara (Arabic: مدينة الزهراء‎‎ Madīnat az-Zahrā: literal meaning "the shining city") was a fortified Arab Muslim medieval palace-city built by Abd-ar-Rahman III al-Nasir, (912–961) Umayyad Caliph of Córdoba, and located on the western outskirts of Córdoba, Spain.


Notable Structures

circa 953 CE

Court of Abdul Rahman III
The "Hall of Ambassadors", dated by inscriptions to between 953 and 957, is the most iconic building excavated so far. 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.

circa 953 CE

Masjid al-Jami'a
The Masjid al-Jami'a of Medina Azahara bears close resemblance to the Great Mosque of Córdoba; it has been called its "little sister". It is located on the terrace to the east of the "High Garden" of Medina Azahara. There are barely any remains of the building, which suffered the pillaging of materials more severely. Well oriented towards Mecca (southeast), the floor of the Mosque is rectangular, and three of its main elements (courtyard, prayer hall and minaret) follow the “classical” scheme of other mosques in the Islamic West.

circa 953 CE

House of Ya'far
The House of Ya'far is one of the only two identified residences in the Medina Azahara's residential quarter. The layout of the building was adapted to a demarcated space previously used where there were some constructions which were either transformed or demolished to build others. The house was conceived as a residence for the private use of the high figure of the caliphal court. This residential structure was organized around three courtyards: a public one, a private one and one for the servants.

circa 953 CE

Royal Residential Precinct
Scale model reconstruction of the royal establishments and partial metropolis of Medina al-Zahara, with the Great Mosque to the lower right.

See Also


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