Great Eastern Arcade
Beyond the Basilical Hall and the nearby structures, in the east there is an uneven steep street with two sections separated by doors, with ledges on both sides, of which the jambs are preserved. The pavement on the street consisted of blocks of limestone rock, forming square shapes which were filled with dark stone from the mountains, as can be seen in the only area preserved of the original pavement, at the entrance of the house located in the northwest. The street, conceived for the use by cavalry accompanying the embassies that were going to be received by the Caliph, connected the mentioned "House of the War" with the lower terrace, where the Great Eastern Arcade was located.
The Great Eastern Arcade was initially built as a set of fifteen arches –fourteen segmental arches and the central one, a horseshoe arch– erected over pillars and alligned north-south from the northern wall, which occupied the eastern side of the mentioned terrace. The arches were modestly decorated: white plaster and the alternation of brick and stone voussoirs. In front of it there is a large space, which was used as "Parade Square", where there were military parades led by the Caliph, with a series of halls located in the north and south.
The arcade gallery held a terrace, of which there are no remains, paved with lime mortar painted in almagra red. In its centre, over the axial arch, there was a small platform, which is not preserved either, from which the caliph inspected the troops.
Shortly after its construction, carried out at the end of the mandate of Abd al-Rahman III or beginning of that of al-Hakam II, the ensemble experienced a great remodelling, which meant some changes in its apparent symmetry. In the northern part of the Parade Square a slope was erected to create a stoned ramp to connect the northern entrance path to the fortress. This measure meant the closing of the three first arches of the Great Eastern Arcade, which was divided in several individual rooms used as sentry boxes.
The current entrance between the terrace holding the arcade gallery and the terrace, where the "Rich Hall" and the "High Garden" are located, breaks the way through the original paths, thus breaking the symmetry among the different parts of the fortress.
If you wish to know the Great Eastern Arcade of Medina Azahara, do not hesitate to hire one of our guided tours. We are experts in the interpretation of the historic heritage from Córdoba. If you have chosen to do sightseeing in Córdoba, choose a high quality option, choose ArtenCórdoba.
Text: Jesús Pijuán.