Madinat al-Zahra is an Islamic city of 112 hectares of surface area. Its construction was ordered by the first Caliph of al-Andalus, Abd al-Rahman III in 936 or 940. as part of the political, economic and ideological programme placed in operation after the establishment of the Caliphate. As a personal residence and government headquarters, the palatial area housed the dwellings of the most important dignitaries and the group of State administrative bodies, which were moved from Córdoba.
During the reigns of Abd al-Rahman III and al-Hakam II, the city was converted into the capital of al-Andalus and ambassadors from Mediterranean countries and present day Central Europe passed through its halls.
Between 1010 and 1013, during the civil war which put an end to the Ummayad Caliphate, it was plundered and abandoned, and its remains were used to build other constructions.
Madinat al-Zahra is considered one of the peaks of Islamic art, for its urban disposition and structure and the diversity of materials used, the architectural solutions employed and the extraordinary wealth and quality of its decoration.