Medina Azahara Interpretive Center

Opened in October 2009

Medinat Al-Zahra (Medina Azahara in Spanish) is the only truly Andalusí city, built by Abd Al-Rahman III as his new capital. It was a sparkling white palace standing above the plains outside Cordoba over three stepped terraces carved into the base of the sierra. The palace city served to demonstrate the newly declared Caliph's power and legitimacy as the Prince of Believers, successor to Mohammed. Seven kilometers outside of Cordoba, the new seat of power was home to government bureaucrats, soldiers and artisans. Since its sacking in 1031, Medinat Al-Zahra lay in ruin, and eventually the remains of its once majestic structures crumbled and were hidden by layers of sediment. It wasn't until the early 20th century that it was discovered again and identified for what it was. Over the past 30 years the site has been a hive of activity. In October 2009, a new 30-million-euro interpretive center was opened by the Junta de Andalucia, and finally the archeological site is becoming a major Cordoba attraction, far more accessible and comprehensible to visitors. The sprawling, award-winning building is designed to make a minimal impact on the landscape and to reflect Medinat Al-Zahra motifs and materials. It houses research, educational, storage and administrative facilities. For visitors, there is a film which recreates Medinat Al-Zahra and explains the most important features of the site, along with a new museum with an excellent selection of pieces.

Also see: Info Cordoba: Cordoba Spain tourist information home | Medina Al-Zahra | More photos of Cordoba

View of Interpretive Center

Landscaping around center

Central Patio

Restaurant and Café

Central Patio & Café

Basement administration rooms

Storage and research area


Medina Al-Zahra Museum

Site materials and their origins

Model of site (only 11% excavated)

Ivory box from Medinat artisans

Bronze lamp

Gold coins from Medinat mint

Decorative crenellation from site's mosque

Fountain adornment (El Cervatillo)

Manganese Green style caliphate ceramics

The Unicorn Plate

Carved windows for steam baths

Egyptian-made glassware

Column bases


A rare ceramic piece

Tony Reed ©2009