Visit Madinat al Zahra

Rafael Jesús Álvarez Córdoba (Lic. Nº GT/01111)

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Discover Madinat al Zahra

Madinat al Zahra, the city palace of Abd al Rahman III.

During your guided tour to Madinat al Zahra you will take a voyage to the most glorious past of the city of Cordova when the Umayyad caliphs controlled the destiny of the inhabitants of al Andalus. Al Andalus is an expression used to denominate the Islamic territories of the Iberian peninsula. Medina Azahara or “the medieval Versailles”, as some authors have called it, was built between the 40`s and the 70`s in the Xth cent. a.d. It was the permanent residence of the caliph and the seat of his government.

Today Madinat al Zahra has two areas which can be visited: the reception centre-museum and the archaeological site.

Virtual reconstruction of Madinat al Zahra

Madinat Al-Zahra


The visit to the archaeological site

The visitor will have the possibility of getting to know, by means of his private tour guide, in a pleasant way, the real reasons hidden behind the decision to construct this city-palace, separating legends from the true reasons: gesture of love or gesture of power? Besides, we will analyse the reasons which led to its destruction less than one hundred years after its construction. Although Medina Azahara was within a walled space of some 112 hectares, during the tour, other elements concerning the surrounding landscape will be pointed out, such as roads, hydraulic infrastructures and quarries. Today only the palace area has been excavated which represents approximately 11% of the total. We will begin at the northern gate of the palace or “the service entrance”.

Medina Azahara zoomorphic ceramics


The Residential Area

Once inside, we will visit the two areas in which the palace was divided: the western side which was residential and the eastern side which was administrative and public dedicated to government buildings. They were both separated by stables and a curious trough. A common denominator throughout our guided tours to Medina Azahara will be the buildings with a basilical layout, either used for religious functions or administrative purposes. The visit to Ya`far`s House, whose restoration was awarded the Europa Nostra Prize will allow us to know the importance of eunuchs in the Umayyad court. Before we go into the public sector we will pass by one of the kitchens which existed there with its well preserved brick oven where all we need now are lamb chops!

The Residential Area


The Administrative Area

We will visit the so-called “upper basilical building” which was part of a wider area used for bureaucratic purposes. The visit continues with the ceremonial entrance to the palace constituting a parade ground and a large gate from which the caliph passed review of his troops. Continuing on we will look out onto a terrace on a lower level where the city or “medina”, which is still underground, was built. Here was also the Friday mosque whose orientation towards Mecca is undoubtedly why we know its function. Finally, the Throne Room with its gardens, is the most outstanding place of the palace where the grand receptions of ambassadors coming from different states of Europe and the Mediterranean were celebrated. This space, a true symbol of paradise according to the Quran, is characterised by the luxury of the materials used in its construction.

The Administrative Area


About me


Rafael Jesús Álvarez Córdoba


My name is Rafael Jesús Álvarez Córdoba. I am a licensed tour guide in Cordova, Andalusia (Spain) in English, French, Italian and Spanish (lic. num.1111). My experience in the field of the interpretation of artistic sites and wide knowledge of the moslem and jewish heritage of Cordova are key factors to creating an unforgettable experience for the visitors.


During my tailor-made private tours, visitors will have the possibility of having a close interaction with me as well as the different places we will visit together in a relaxing way.


My wish is to share with you the love and knowledge I have about the moslem/jewish heritage of Cordoba so as to make you feel like coming back here! Take a private Cordova tour with a knowledgeable local guide and get ready to be charmed by this ancient city.



Contingency plan Coronavirus measures

Andalucía Segura
Turismo Responsable

Contingency plan with special measures for the reduction of contagion by the SARSCoV-2 coronavirus in guided visits

  • Current regulation on the use of masks during guided visits will be communicated to the client at the time of formalizing the reservation.
  • At the beginning of each visit, the guide will inform clients of the obligation to observe social distancing during the visit as established in the current legislation.
  • Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizers available to the clients before starting the guided tour.
  • The guide will remind clients, before starting the visit, the preventive measures in place and will urge that they be followed for the good and safety of all ( do not touch surfaces, maintain social distance, correct use of mask, use of Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizers, etc.).
  • The guide will inform how the visit will be carried out, the route and possible restrictions, limitations or possible modifications.
  • Printed material will not be distributed to customers (maps, information brochures ...).
  • The maximum number of people established by current regulation will be respected.
  • Self-monitoring of covid19 symptoms by the guide, before and after each guided tour. If the guide experiences any symptoms of the disease (cough, fever and shortness of breath), the guide will refrain from providing the service and another guide will make the visit.
  • Group visitors can rent radio guide systems (the devices for customers will be disinfected with authorized products prior to delivery). Clients must return radios in the conditions required. Thanks to these devices the guide is able to talk to a group and respect social distancing. Disposable headphones available. Clients can use their own headphones if they wish.
  • Avoid greeting and / or farewell by physical contact with the guide.

This protocol has been prepared following the recommendations and guidelines marked by:

  • Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism - Secretary of State for Tourism.
  • Junta de Andalucía – Tourism Department.
  • ICTE, Institute for Spanish Tourism Quality.
  • ICOMOS, International Council of Monuments and Sites.
  • UNE, Spanish Association for Standardization.