The Splendour of the Caliphate

Cordoba was from the very outset of the conquest the capital of Al Andalus. The seat of the independent caliphate, it was during the 10th Century the most densely populated city of the Old Continent and its splendour dazzled geographers, chroniclers and travellers alike.

As the centre of power and cultural hub, it laid the foundations of Islamic art in Al Andalus. Abderramán I initiated in the 8th Century the construction of the Aljama mosque, one old the most emblematic buildings of Islamic art. It was extended on various occasions, for the last time by Almanzor at the end of the 10th Century. In the 16th century a cathedra was built inside it.

The minarets of other Cordoba mosques have survived at the Churches of Santiago and San Juan (9th C.), and at the church of the Convent of Santa Clara (10th C.). Of the four kilometres of walled grounds that it had, only part has survived, now very much restored, near to the Gate of Almodóvar.

Vestiges of the old Alcázar Palace of los Omeyas, situated opposite the Mosque, can be appreciated only in the facade of the Episcopal Palace and the Calahorra houses an exhibition of models, audio- visual materials and figures on Islamic Andalusia. Other baths that have been conserved in Cordoba are those of Santa María, very much modified by successive alterations, and the Baths of La Pescadería.

The Roman Bridge displays the restoration work performed by the Muslims. Examples of their hydraulic constructions which have survived are the Mills of Enmedio and La Albolafia (10th C.).

The mosaic- like design of the capital of the Caliphate is in evidence in the Ajerquía, here the Mozarabs settled in Cordoba and in the Judería, the Jewish Quarter, with its synagogue, situated near la Aljama district. A fitting epilogue to this route would be a visit to nearby Médinat al- Zahara, paradigm of a grand ephemeral town. Built in the 10th Century by Abderramán and destroyed in 1010 during the Berber insurrection which brought the Caliphate to an end, it still boasts the ruins of palaces, baths, mosques… This represented the highest point of the splendour of Caliphate art.

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