Medieval Umayyad town in Spain designated a World Heritage site by UN

Medina Azahara

The remains of a medieval Muslim dynastic town in Spain have been made a World Heritage site by the United Nation’s cultural body UNESCO.

Medina Azahara, near the Spanish city of Cordoba, is a 10th-century Umayyad site which UNESCO says provides “in-depth knowledge of the now vanished Western Islamic civilisation of Al-Andalus, at the height of its splendour.”

After prospering for centuries, the magnificent palace-city, which was the de facto capital of Al-Andalus, or Islamic Spain, “was laid to waste during the civil war that put an end to the Caliphate in 1009-10,” the UNESCO committee said in a statement.

The city was built as a symbol of power to rival the Abbasid caliphate of Baghdad, but lasted less than a century before it was destroyed in an uprising, which ended the Umayyad caliphate at the beginning of the 11th century.

The remains of the city were forgotten for almost a thousand years until their rediscovery in the early 20th century.

The site is a treasure trove for archaeologists, presenting “a complete urban ensemble” including roads, bridges, water systems, buildings, decorative elements and everyday objects, the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation said.

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