Unprecedented world premiere at UNESCO World Heritage Medina Al Azahara Cordoba

The archeological site in Medina Azahara, Cordoba, was added to the list of cultural sites by UNESCO World Heritage.

Unprecedented world premiere at UNESCO World Heritage Medina Al Azahara Cordoba

During the 42nd session of the World Heritage Committee held in Manama, Bahrain, this year from June 24 to July 4, 2018, the archeological site at the beginning of the building in 936 in Medina Azahara, Cordoba, was added to the list of cultural sites by UNESCO World Heritage effective July 1, 2018.

But what is the significance of this building?

Medina Azahara is the largest archaeological site in Spain with 112 hectares of walled surface. Although only 10 percent of the ancient site has been excavated so far, a palpable magic exists within that space.

Photo © E. Lang

History books write that Medina Azahara (Madinat al-Zahra) was the most beautiful example of Al-Andalus splendor – a city whose beauty couldn’t be compared to any other in the world. According to legend, it emerged from a love story, and another story of wars destroyed it only 70 years later.

The historic center of Cordoba, Spain, is one of the largest of its kind in Europe, which makes the city of Cordoba unique in the world.

Photo © E. Lang

But what else makes Cordoba so special?

For one thing, it is easy to reach from Madrid in an hour-and-a-half on a highspeed AVE train. The weather is always nicer than most nearby places, especially during the winter months when Madrid is putting on a grey face and thick winter coats, while Cordoba is bathing in sunshine and orange trees.


The historic center of Cordoba has a wealth of monuments preserving large traces of Roman, Arabic, and Christian times, and it is easy to discover it all on foot.

Photos © E. Lang

The latest addition to its uniqueness is it being named the fourth UNESCO Heritage Site of Cordoba. Unfortunately, however, anyone who wants to get more information on this splendid UNESCO World Heritage crowning cannot find anything in English. Also missing is the announcement of a great cultural event taking place for first time in history next Sunday at Medina Azahara. So, here we are again with the old way of communication – simply by writing.

Medina Azahara, located 7 kilometers from Cordoba, shows the splendor of a city built on a hill which has the most stunning palaces, courts, and gardens in the world.

Maria Dolores Gaitan, Pianist, Founder & Artistic Direction FIP Guadalquivir Festival

Thanks to the vision of Maria Dolores Gaitan, pianist and Director and Founder of FIP Guadalquivir María Dolores Gaitán Sánchez, the 9th edition of the FIP Guadalquivir Festival will be held from September 19 -30, 2018. This year will hold an unprecedented musical performance by Al-Zahra – the very first concert and cultural event that will be held at the UNESCO World Heritage site.

This extraordinary concert, based on traditional musical pieces with an updated modern musical language, includes the singular experience of combining different kinds of musical instruments playing innovative compositions.

This exclusive occasion will also showcase the first ever performance of “Rhapsody of Yigdal Elohim” inspired by the songs of the cordobés Maimónides – songs that until today had never been transcribed and arranged for this kind of ensemble. It will also be the premier of “Scheherezade” by Rimsy Korsakov, transcribed and adapted for a new form of music, explains Maria Dolores Gaitan.

Concert at the Mezquita, Cordoba – Photo © E. Lang

The performance of “Al-Zahra in Music,” a name that conjures up tradition, modernization, and internationalization, is to give life to the archaeological jewel Medina Azahara which is also the site where many chapters of the musical history of Cordoba were forged, shared Maria Dolores Gaitan.

Maria is using the most prestigious settings in the city: the Mosque Cathedral, the Synagogue, the Palace of Viana, the Góngora Theatre, and Medina Azahara itself as indoor and open-air event spaces throughout the entire city.

In speaking with Gaitan, who supervised the whole project, I learned that it was a mega-logistical issue to make this all happen, as all the equipment, instruments, and seats, including sanitary solutions, had to be carried in and installed at the archaeological site just for this concert. The was made possible only through private investors, inspiring minds, and visionaries.

Gaitan is mindful of watching the weather forecasts for the upcoming open-air concert, and she is so far seeing no clouds in the sky for next weekend, with promising temperatures of 33 Celsius at the sold-out venue. The FIP Guadalquivir will close with a final concert inside the Mesquita of Cordoba on Sunday, September 30.

In 1984, UNESCO registered the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba as a World Heritage site. The large Cordoba Mosque was modeled after the one in Damascus and is a real masterpiece.

In 711 A.D., Cordoba – as in many other Andalusian cities – was conquered by the Moors. They turned the city into a cultural haven, with many mosques and palaces. Cordoba’s period of greatest glory began in the 8th century after the Moorish conquest.

World pianist Leslie Howard who is in the Guiness Book of World Records with over 100 CDs of works of Franz Liszt – Photo © E. Lang

In addition to a huge library, the city enclosed over 300 mosques and a multitude of palaces and administrative buildings.

In 766, Cordoba was the capital of the Muslim Caliphate of Al-Andalus, and by the 10th century, as did Caliphate of Córdoba, it had become one of the most advanced cities in the world, recognized for its culture, learning, and religious tolerance.

Among other notable monuments in the city is the Roman bridge over the Guadalquivir – the fourth largest river in Spain and the only one that is navigable.

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