Madinat Al Zahra is located 8km to the west of Cordoba, about a 20 minute drive away from the city centre. It is considered to be one of the most important archaeological sites in Europe. It’s construction dates from 929 when the majority of Spain was ruled by the Arabs. Cordoba was the then capital and was known as Al-Andalus. The then Caliph (emperor) decided to move his residence, as well as the political and administrative departments of the state to a more strategic position, high on the hills above Cordoba, so proceeded to build a new city!! The lifespan of Medinat Al Zahra was only 75 years and it was destroyed during power struggles between the different factions.
The city was forgotten for centuries but in 1911 it was rediscovered and excavation began. The site is now owned by the Junta de Andalucia and excavation is ongoing. Only a tenth of the site has been excavated so there’s still an awfully long way to go!!!
This was a fascinating place to visit, even I was enthralled and to be honest, this is more hubby’s thing than mine! The size of some of the buildings that have been discovered is amazing.
There is a bus that runs from Cordoba city centre at 10am and brings you back around 2pm. Cost of the bus is €7 per person which includes an illustrated guidebook. There is ample parking however, and it is well signposted if you wanted to drive yourself. The bus drops you at the new museum installation which was built in 2009. Here, you register (it is free entry to EU citizens) and have the opportunity to wander around the museum and learn about the history of the site. From there, you board another bus for the 10 minute drive up to the site. It takes about 2-2 1/2 hours to tour the whole site but there is a nice coffee shop where you can grab some refreshment back at the museum site if you finish early.
See link below for opening times etc