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Medina Azahara

Just a short drive away from Spain's southern city of Córdoba sits Medina Azahara. While little of the 10th-century medieval palace-town remains, its legacy as "Old Córdoba" lives on.

Legend has it that the city, erected by Caliph of Córdoba Abd al-Rahman III, was named after the Caliph’s favorite concubine, Azahara. Recent studies, however, reveal that its creation likely had more to do with politics, symbolizing the Caliph's power and superiority over his rivals. Whatever the case, for a short time, Medina Azahara stood as the de facto capital of Muslim Spain (called al-Andalus) before it was eventually devastated during civil war in 1010, only to be abandoned, buried away, and finally excavated in the early 1900s. Rectangular in shape, Medina Azahara was carefully laid out, with an advanced sewer system. The hillside township was broken into terraces: the top and middle sections dedicated to the royal palace.

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