Spain's Lost City
On July 1st, The UNESCO list of world heritage sites added the medieval Spanish city of Medina Azahara, to the growing list of Spanish sites honored.
The site, which houses the ancient ruins of a city founded by the first caliph of Al-Andalus had remained buried for nearly 1000 years before its discovery at the beginning of the 20th century. It houses the ancient ruins of a city founded by the first caliph (a person considered a religious successor to the Islamic prophet, Muhammad, and a leader of the entire community) of Al-Andalus.
Built beginning in 936-940, the city included reception halls, mosques, government offices, gardens, barracks, and baths with water supplied through aqueducts. The main reason for its construction was politico-ideological: "the dignity of the Caliph required the establishment of a new city, a symbol of his power, imitating other Eastern Caliphates." A Legend also states that it was built as a tribute for the Caliph's favorite wife: Azahara.
According to the official WHC entry, “The Caliphate city of Medina Azahara is an archaeological site of a city built in the mid-10th century CE by the Umayyad dynasty as the seat of the Caliphate of Cordoba. After prospering for several years, it was laid to waste during the civil war that put an end to the Caliphate in 1009-10. The remains of the city were forgotten for almost 1,000 years until their rediscovery in the early 20th century. This complete urban ensemble features infrastructure such as roads, bridges, water systems, buildings, decorative elements and everyday objects. It provides in-depth knowledge of the now vanished Western Islamic civilization of Al-Andalus, at the height of its splendour.”
It is Spain’s only candidate this year but replaces France as the third country with the most sites on this list following China and Italy.
We hope you've enjoyed learning about Spain's Lost City! Before you book that ticket to witness the sunken city, be sure to check out our culturally immersive group classes! Our native instructors are sure to equip you with all of the knowledge, culturally and linguistically, you may need to navigate Spain's newest "world heritage" site.