Day 7 A caliph’s palace in Spain

In 2018, the caliph’s palace of Madinat al-Zahra near Cordoba became a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site. Founded in 936 AD, the residence of Caliph Abd al-Rahman III is the most significant archaeological site of Islamic culture on European soil.

The Islamic palace city, Madinat al-Zahra, with the Salón Rico and other residences, and with Córdoba in the distance (Poto: F. Arnold, DAI Madrid)

How sumptuous the palace once was is shown by a composite capital of white marble (c.950 AD) which was found in 1975 by Félix Hernández during excavations in the great portico of Madinat al-Zahra (Azahara). It was originally from a pavilion situated above the palace entrance gate. From this pavilion the caliph could survey the Plaza de Armas, the city’s central public square and scene of festivities as well as executions. Plaza de Armas is currently the subject of a DAI Madrid research project.

Learn more about the project: