The western suburbs

The western suburbs

Topografía urbana de la Córdoba califal sobre planimetría actual de la ciudad (GMU-UCO).
Urban topography of the Cordoban Caliphate on current planimetry of the city (GMU-UCO).

The process of creation of the medina of Qurṭuba was completed over the centuries, developed purposely by successive rulers in order to Islamize the pre-existing city and adapt it to the needs of the Muslim community. The first transformations began with the emir ‘Abd al-Raḥmān I, although the real urban development of the city did not take place until the establishment of the Umayyad Caliphate in the year 929.

Vista aérea de uno de los solares excavados en la zona de Poniente (R. Clapés Salmoral, Manzana 14 del PP. O-7).
Aerial view of one of the sites excavated in the area of Poniente (R. Clapés Salmoral, Manzana 14 of PP O-7).

The Qurṭuba of that moment presented two parallel realities: the space within the walls,  conditioned by the existence of a previous urban planning in constant evolution; and the city outside the walls, especially extended towards the western area from the 10th century, where a large number of new neighborhoods emerged. Nevertheless, from the second half of the 8th century, the emirs of Cordova had occasionally participated in the construction of these lands.

Recreación ideal de los suburbios de la Córdoba omeya realizada por A. Redondo Paz (FERNÁNDEZ-PALACIOS, 2013).
Recreation of the Umayyad Cordoba suburbs by A. Redondo Paz (FERNÁNDEZ-PALACIOS, 2013).

The archaeological works carried out to the west of Cordoba in the last twenty years have highlighted the size and the splendour of these peripheral areas, which had less than a century of life since they were plundered and abandoned after the fitna or civil war (1009-1031). Due to these excavations, it has been possible to analyze in depth the characteristics of a Islamic urbanism from its origin, and not Islamized, as it happened inside the medina.

Calle y viviendas de época califal documentadas en Poniente (Manzana 15 del PP. O-7, Foto: J. L. Líebana).
Street and houses during the Caliphal period documented in Poniente (Manzana 15 of PP O-7, Photo: J. L. Líebana).

These suburbs were built around preexisting roads and new paths and streets. They were constituted by dwellings and other spaces such as mosques, cemeteries, baths, artisanal installations, agricultural areas or hydraulic structures. The almost orthogonal layout of many of these neighborhoods indicates a prior planning that seems to have been orchestrated in large part thanks to the initiatives of private individuals or the actions of “constructive promoters”. However, the Umayyad State could also have been involved in a initial phase.

 


Bibliography

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