Courtyard of the Pillars
The space known as Courtyard of the Pillars is located in the north of the "House of the Pool". Its organization is based on opened lintelled galleries supported by their corresponding square pillars arranged around that courtyard. On all the sides of the complex, except for the southern one, a series of rooms precede the mentioned galleries. On that side, there is a street arriving from the "Houses of the Servants" –previously explained– through which a general supply water pipe runs. As it was the case in the “Higher Houses”, the latrines were located in the eastern corner of the northern side, preceded by a courtyard.
Each group of rooms is connected with their respective galleries through the corresponding access openings, protected by horseshoe arches supported by pillars. The rooms on the northern and eastern sides are displayed as central long rooms and extended in width, with small square bedrooms at the ends. The organization of the Courtyard of the Pillars in big rooms suggests its use as a place where meetings and councils took place, rather than a private residence. On the other hand, on the western side, the two rooms were located in parallel and, in order to emphasize its relevance over the rest, they were paved with white marble, whereas in the others violet limestone was used.
The free space in the north of the most important rooms in the courtyard –the ones on the western side, as mentioned– was not used to build more rooms, but a stairway was erected –similar to those of a minaret–, which turned right over a central wall. Through this stairway, one could access an elevated section over the mentioned rooms or the higher terrace and, below its northern section, there was a passageway connecting the western room (of the ones mentioned before) leading to the end of the private rooms of Caliph Abd al-Rahman III.
The building of the Courtyard of the Pillars was one of the most important remodellings that took place in Medina Azahara throughout its history, because, in this part of the palatial city there were originally two large houses arranged from north to south. Only the one located in the south is preserved, more specifically, the small pool in the centre of its northern side.
From an artistic point of view, we should highlight the presence of a sarcophagus from Roman times, located in the centre of the courtyard, opposite to the rooms on the western side. This sarcophagus was used as a water sink and its mythological decoration is outstanding (representation of the Hunt of Meleager).
If you are wondering what to visit in Córdoba, a good option would be the archaeological site of Medina Azahara choosing one of our guided tours. We will explain there a special chapter dedicated to the Courtyard of the Pillars. Choosing to do high quality sightseeing is choosing ArtenCórdoba.
Text: Jesús Pijuán.