This is an amazing place, only 10 minutes away from the city of Cordova. It was a lost city, almost like Petra, until 1911, when archaeological diggings were started. What they’ve discovered and even keep discovering (only 12% of the area has been digged so far) is that this was probably the most beautiful city in the Western world back in the 10th century. Unfortunately, it died as fast as it shined and its goods were pillaged for centuries and can now be found in museums in Qatar, Paris, New York and in many cathedrals in Spain.
Work in this site began in 936, when the new caliph of Cordova, Abd-ar-Rahman III, blue-eyed because of his Navarrese ancestors, wanted to show the world how powerful he was. So he minted coins and built a completely new city in the mountains, which was called “The Shining City”, translation of Madinat al-Zahra.
The mountainous topography of the region was crucial for the planning of the city: hierarchical structuring along terraces. It has the shape of an almost perfect rectangle, surrounded by walls with towers and doors. None of them exist nowadays, though. The city was divided into two main areas: the Medina or city and the Alcazar or government area, where the caliph lived. In the middle, one big mosque was built.