The complex known as Higher Houses consists of two similar buildings characterized by the arrangement of their rooms around big square courtyards –paved with blocks of stones and an elevated path along the perimeter– which constitute the most important spaces in the houses. The western house had four bays around the courtyard, although today we can only confirm the presence of rooms on three of its sides. The eastern house has more irregular shape, due to the construction, in its bay, of a ramp connecting to the lower terrace of the fortress. This way, the entrance to the so-called private section was considerably transformed.
These houses could be accessed through the steep street –in the eastern part of the fortress–, communicating from the south part with the "Trapezoidal Space". This entrance was closed in the western house by placing a latrine next to the door. In the centre of the courtyards, rectangular marble sinks were placed in order to supply the houses with water. Besides, each of them had latrines, whose cleaning was carried out with small sinks, of which we preserve the one belonging to the eastern house.
Initially, the houses, which were part of the original design of the fortress, were organized based on big rooms –some of which had a higher floor or attic–, with a tiled monopitch roof falling into the courtyard. The space of the rooms was divided with rougher materials, which suggests a more intense use of these rooms. The most important room in the western house, located in the centre of its northern side, had bedrooms at both ends and a latrine, which suggests that it was occupied by an important character of the Court, whose needs were looked after from the eastern house, which, apart from bedrooms, had a kitchen in the courtyard and a room where meat was carved up.
Therefore, the residential function of the western house is evident, although its location inside the fortress, controlling the access to the lower terraces, also suggests that it was used by part of the palace guard. On the other hand, the eastern house was the point where food arrived at the palace, which proves its domestics character (area of servants in the western house), which is confirmed by the discovery of plenty of pottery in the waste pipes of the house.
If you are not sure what to do in Córdoba, we recommend you visit the Archaeological Site of Medina Azahara hiring one of our guided tours. We will pay special attention to the Higher Houses and its relevance in the site. Choose to do high quality sightseeing with qualified staff. Do not hesitate, ArtenCórdoba is the best option.
Text: Jesús Pijuán.