(c) March 2013 Oliver Bonten
When Cordoba emir Abd ar-Rahman III became caliph, he decided to build a new administrative capital a couple of kilometers from Cordoba, in the hills overlooking Cordoba and the river. Medina Azahara, or Madinat az-Zahra (Zahra was one of the caliph's concubines - he must have really liked her) was a large planned city, and the design made use of the hills to express the structure of the society itself: it was built in at least three terraces, with the highest terrace being the caliph's residence and office, the middle one for high ranking folks, and the bottom one for the common people. The city was in use for barely a century before the center of power shifted, and the common folks went back to Cordoba. It is now an impressive area of ruins which shows some of the splendor of the Cordoba caliphate, and some of the Moorish infrastructure capabilities (like freshwater and sewage handling)
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