• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Explain the reasons for the construction of the Madinat-al-Zahra and Document the measures of its splendour

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Explain the reasons for the construction of the Madinat-al-Zahra and Document the measures of its splendour The city of Madinat-al-Zahra was founded by the Umayyad Caliph Abd al Rahkman III, and later completed in 936 during the time of his son Hakam II, after nearly 40 years of construction. Situated 5 km from Cordoba, it was an extravagant and grand city, built by over 10,000 workers at a time when art, philosophy and culture were flourishing in Islamic culture. It is easy to understand why it was later to become know as the Radiant City1 , as it contained beautiful gardens , rich treasures and extravagant decorations. The cost of building such a grand city was of course high, estimated in some quarters to be almost a third of Cordoba's total revenue. It was however, until its eventual destruction, unmatched in beauty and splendour2. It was created as a new capital, as a seat of government and state functions, but it had a short albeit glorious life. The decline of Madinat-al-Zahra essentially began during the reign of the young caliph Hisham II. At that time, the prime minister al-Mansor, (who was known for his dictatorial style of governing, and his continued successful attacks on the Christian North3,) ...read more.

Middle

the ground was covered with brocades. At intervals servants would be places in richly dressed clothes and jewels, whom would be mistaken for kings, before informing the dignitary they were servants. This leads to the impression that if even the servants, or lesser important people were dressed as such, then the Caliph must be incredibly powerful. When they saw him, he would be seated on the ground wearing simple clothes, holding a Koran. This unexpected sight showed a pious, spiritual side to him.7 In the centre of al Rahmans palace was the 'Room of the Caliphs' described as having walls of marble, floors of transparent alabaster covered with rich carpets; 8 ebony doors on each side of the hall inlaid with gold and precious stones and a golden swan, holding in its beak a pearl the size of a dove's eggas just a snippet of the total splendour8. Elsewhere, striking bronze statues poured perfumed mountain spring water into large marble fountains, huge and lush gardens were surrounded by wonderful pillars, ornaments and glorious statues. Finally, carefully directed sunlight reflected against a central fountain filled with mercury, dazzling royal visitors as when the pool was disturbed, the whole room shimmered with reflected light. ...read more.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the function of the Madinat-al-Zahra was to serve as a royal residence, a seat for the government and a popular dwelling area for the Emir. The magnificence of decoration was designed to create the impression of, and offer a perfect setting to portray a divinely ordered hierarchy and prove to all that the caliph was supreme ruler over his people and gods true emissary. Other reasons surely played a part in the construction of Madinat al-Zahra; vanity, excitement in creating vast new citadels, the expression of love to one of his concubines and as something to take the caliphs mind from previous failures, but I believe that pure symbolic expression provided the main reason for the construction of this wonderful city. Although one could, and many have, describe the caliph's efforts as an ill conceived, devastation of resources, as a shrine of power and home for ceremonial and deeply important displays of absolute authority, Madinat al-Zahra was brilliantly constructed. From authoritative dominance over guests, enemies and potential allies to imposing a great ethos of subordination in the divine surroundings on the military to the state and all individuals to him, Ceremonial acts, vivid imagery and total grandeur were the vital instruments used by the caliph to establish his position clearly to other people. Madinat al-Zahra was a perfect symbol, and instrument, of power. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE History Projects section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE History Projects essays

  1. Faith, Philosophy, and Government

    It truly is amazing, all the commonalities our group has found in the varying religions. This research is definitely the fruit in our pie. Studying Religions This next ingredient will definitely add some flavor. As a group, we thought about why it is important to understand a society's religion.

  2. How useful is a visit to the Tudor parts of Hampton Court to find ...

    When Wolsey took over the palace in 1514 after Sir Giles Daubeney died he completely changed Hampton Court building new kitchens, court yards, lodgings, galleries and gardens also building rooms for Henry VIII and his queen and daughter but we can't tell whether Wolsey changed the Great Hall or not

  1. The Royal Pavilion

    King - and also because of The Act of Settlement, which said that 'if the heir to the throne married a Roman Catholic, he would forfeit all right to the throne'. To the public, it was seen very strange that a member of the royal family left the kingdom for

  2. To what extent is Al Queda a terrorist organisation?

    The Saudis turned him down - accepting instead an American offer - and soon there were more than 500,000 on Saudi Soil preparing to launch operation Desert Storm against Iraq.

  1. Assess the significance of Schliemann's excavation at

    Secondly, Heinrich Schliemann's discovery of an unknown civilization lost in the sands of time, has shed new light on ancient history.

  2. The Other Side of the Destruction

    He makes a conscious effort to paint a gory picture of the cruelties suffered by the Indians at the hands of the Spanish invaders. The violence is explained in detail and the perpetrators of the crime are duly derided with references such as "ravening wolves", "butcher" and "fiend".

  1. How does the Verulamium site enable modern historians to understand and explain life in ...

    We know that the engineers that made the mosaics were skilled because there was evidence at Verulamium that they were highly paid. An example of skilled engineering that is still in use today is the roads that the Romans built.

  2. From the evidence available, trace the development of the Jewellery Quarter in the ...

    Also, they are metals that are soft and can be easily manipulated. This meant that it was easy to press basic shapes into them to create beautiful patterns. It was very easy to set up in the toy trade because the smiths working in the Jewellery Quarter did not need

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work