( Madīnat al-Zahrā
, meaning "brilliant town", "beautiful town", or "the town of Zahra") is the ruins of a vast, fortified Arab Muslim medieval palace-city built by Abd-ar-Rahman III al-Nasir
, (912–961) Ummayad Caliph of Córdoba
, and located on the western outskirts of Córdoba, Spain
. It was an Arab Muslim medieval town and the de-facto capital of al-Andalus
, or Muslim Spain, as the heart of the administration and government was within its walls. 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
. Above all, it demonstrated his superiority over his great rivals, the Fatimids
in Northern Africa. Legend also says it was built as a tribute to the favourite of the Caliph: Azahara.
The complex was extended during the reign of Abd al-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... Read More