lunes, 15 de diciembre de 2014

مدينة الزهراء‎ Madīnat az-Zahrā The city of the flower

When you go to Córdoba, besides visiting the city, you must visit the archeological remains of Medina Azahara, one of the great works of Islamic art in Andalucía.


Medina Azahara (Arabic: مدينة الزهراءMadīnat az-Zahrā: literal meaning "city of the flower") is the ruins of a vast, fortified Arab Muslim medieval palace-city built by Abd-ar-Rahman III al-Nasir, (912–961) Umayyad 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.

10,000 men worked in its construction using the best materials: precious metals, marble, polychrome stones, etc.

Medinat-al-Zahra was organized in three big terraces surrounded by a wall. In the upper part was the royal palace, with the rooms of the caliph and his family; the middle one was the bureaucratic and administrative area, with the halls and gardens; the lower one was destined for the houses of the people, as well as for the souk and mosque.

Its location in the foothills of Sierra Morena made it possible to design an urban program in which the location and physical relationships between the various constructions were expressive of the role of each in the setting.

The palace was located at a higher level, and staggered its buildings along the side of the mountain in an expression of clear preeminence over the urban hamlets and the Aljama Mosque spread across the plains below.

Following the terraces, the first corresponds to the residential area of the caliph, next comes the official area including the houses of the viziers, the guard-room, administrative offices and gardens.

Next is the city proper, with housing, crafts, and the great mosque of the two lower terraces separated by another wall in order to isolate the upper palace complex. Archaeological research has revealed an urban morphology characterized by the existence of large areas of undeveloped land, which serves to empty the entire southern front of the fortress, ensuring privacy and maintaining an open, idyllic country landscape.

The only spaces built on the lowest level are two broad bands: the western, with an urban management orthogon, and the eastern, with less rigid planning.

Popular legend holds that the Caliph named az-Zahra, or Azahara, after his favorite concubine, and that a statue of a woman stood over the entrance. Others, imagining his demanding lover, say that he built this new city just to please her. The truth, however, has probably more to do with politics than love.

 Abd ar-Rahman III ordered the construction of this city at a time when he had just finished consolidating his political power in the Iberian Peninsula and was entering into conflict with the Fatimid dynasty for the control of North Africa.

 Zahara means 'shining, radiant or blossoming' in Arabic: the name communicates aspirations of power and status, not romantic love. Az-Zahra is the most common title for the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad Fatimah az-Zahra. As such, the Fatimid dynasty of North Africa adorned many buildings and even towns with her name.


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