Day 7 (December 19, 2012)   Medina Azahar and return


     It’s difficult we will still have pending visits in Cordoba at this point, but if we have, we could do them this morning.

   After that, we would drive to Medina Azahara ruins outside the city.

Route to Medina Azahara

   When finished from this visit we would cover the 140 Km to Seville and, depending on the time, we could do some missing visits in that city or going directly to deliver the car and to the airport for our flight back to home, scheduled by 8:30 PM.


   We leave the hotel with no rushes, so we check out at 11 AM after breakfast, tidiness and baggage last details.

   We’re carrying our bags while going through the Roman Bridge paying attention to more details as if this was the last time, which it could be. Yesterday, a man in a bar explained to us the wild bush area in the middle of the river, now at our right, is a protected area because of the birds living there. It is called “Sotos de la Albolafia” and there are the ruins of some ancient mills in there too.

Calahorra Tower in CordobaSotos de la Albolafia

   We say goodbye to Calahorra Tower and reach the car, which is resting where we left it the day before yesterday.

   We drive Cadiz Avenue down to get the Bridge of Andalusia to go across the river and it is there where the first signs pointing to “Medinat Al-zahra” appear. We follow them to reach the place in less than 30 minutes.

   Parking is big and we walk to the only building here, with a modern design matching with the landscape. We think this is just the visitor’s center, but it is more than that: there is a museum too but, before, we’re recommended to watch the movie is going to be projected in a few minutes in the cinema they have here too. We’re explained as well the ruins are two kilometers far and everything is free but the bus to reach them: 2.10€ by the return trip, which must be paid directly to the bus driver.

Entrance to Medina Azahara's museum

   The movie is a computer simulation about how live was in the city and the common daily task of their people focused on the main places we are going to see in there. I haven’t expected to be so entertaining and it helps a lot as, once seen, you don’t need any guide while exploring the ruins.

   The museum is small but modern, or even futurist. I can see some animated displays in 3D I only saw before in sci-fi movies.

Medina Azahara's museumMedina Azahara's museum

Hall of Abd al-Rahman III

   When we think we’re ready we address to the exit, passing by the stores, where you can see the lot of stones off display they have in there trough big windows.

   A sign says bus pass every 30 minutes since 10 AM to 6 PM, which goes to 8 PM in summer. While waiting for it, we can enjoy with a couple of storks in a low roof across the parking.

Bus to Medina AzaharaStorks in Medina Azahara

   Bus arrives and this short ride leaves us in front of the door of the ancient city ruins, which appears with the fog occupying its streets. We’re told they’re out of Spanish maps as the format is going to be changed. This already happened with the info we got at museum, which is in English too.

   The mist gives a magical touch to this place and we get into that mix of clouds and stones. The first choice appears right at the beginning: “Official area” at left or “Residential area” at right. We choose the first one with no reason.

Mist in Medina AzaharaOfficial area of Medina Azahara

   We immediately reach the upper basilica building, which only has its roof missing, and we pass through the city doors to get into the gardens of the Hall of Abd al-Rahman III using temporary platforms. The hall is on improvement works and it is not allowed the entrance.

Upper basilica buildingUpper basilica building

Great Portico
Gardens of Hall of Abd al-Rahman IIIHall of Abd al-Rahman III

   It seems like everything here is in improvements, including the vouchers and maps, and when the works are over the itinerary will be logically in a loop, but now we must return back by walking by the same path we follow to here, passing again through the platforms which allow us to see the Mosque below, and a little bit further, the bulls in their graze.

Bulls grazing close to Medina AzaharaMosque of Medina Azahara

   Now we must explore the residential area, which is quite smaller than the official one. There we find the oven and the House of Ya’far, which we were explained in the movie about. We pass though the guards’ quarter and the stable, finishing a very pleasant visit.

House of Ya'farResidential area of Medina Azahara

Oven in Medina AzaharaResidential area of Medina Azahara

   The next is waiting for the bus to take the car once back in the parking and driving to A4 to Seville. It’s 1:15 PM, so we’ll need to stop for lunching on the road.

   We see our first Osborne bull and pass by places as “Puente Viejo” and “La Carlota”.

Osborne bull in highway to Seville

   Somehow, just after reaching Ecija, we stop to lunch in a restaurant beside a big gas station. Its name: “Venta del Empalme”.

La CarlotaRestaurant "Venta del empalme"

   We choose soups and meats from the daily menu and we end satisfied as food is good by 20€ in total. We leave the place some minutes past 3 PM.

   We continue our trip passing by Ecija, which greet us with its pointed towers.


   We still see another Osborne bull but, before, we’ve been wondering what could be a sort of silver tower shining to the sun at far, in the middle of nowhere. It looks like something out of this planet, although I would find out later it is the Sun Tower.

Sun Tower

   A police security check in the road makes us to spend quite time waiting in a long row of vehicles and help us to decide not going to Seville, but directly to deliver the car.

   We take exit 532 and follow the indications in the map they gave us in Goldcar to reach their office and deliver the car around 5 PM. As we have time to waste we let a family to use the next transfer of the airport and we wait for the other one.

   After security check we look at the few shops of this small airport spending the close to two hours they’ve taken to put our boarding gate in display.

   In the less than two hours of our flight we’re recalling our experience: we love these Andalusian cities!! We’re surprised about how much we liked Seville which we were far to imagine that well cared. We can sort the cities we’ve liked more by: Seville, Cordoba and Granada. Somehow, the top 3 for monuments is: Alhambra, Alcazar of Seville and Great Mosque of Cordoba.

   Flight lands in time and we call to park&fly to be picked up and be able of being in our car in exchange of 57.65€.