Córdobeses are unique in Andalusia for having the remains of an entire medieval city on their doorstep. The Moorish city of Medina Azahara – ‘The Shining City’ – was once the adminstrative capital of Al-Andalus, as Moorish-ruled Spain was then known. Situated some 8km (5 miles) outside the city of Córdoba in stunning countryside, it was started in 936 on the order of the Umayyad Caliph of Córdoba, Abd-ar-Rahman III al-Nasir.
Not only did Rahman III want to build a complex of governmental palaces and residential quarters, but the Azahara was also intended to assert his might over other great Moorish dynasties in northern Africa and Baghdad. Construction proceeded apace and by 941, when the Caliph took up residence in the Azahara, the mosque and main palace were already completed. Additions and alterations continued for decades, but in 1010 Azahara was looted and thereafter stood deserted for centuries. Its remains were not discovered until the beginning of the 20th century and, although they only account for about 10% of the original city, they nevertheless give you a good idea of just how magnificent Medina Azahara must have been.
Carretera Palma del Río, km 5.5, Córdoba, Spain, +34 957 10 36 37