Spain is one of the countries with more World Heritage properties (44) together with Italy and China, even so, it has a large list of properties as candidates for World Heritage in the Tentative List (33). In March of the present year, Madinat al-Zahara was inscribed in the Tentative List, and it has been nominated World Heritage in 2018.

This document (created in 2017) presents a possible Management Plan that could be used if the property achieves the goals of being nominated as World Heritage property. The Management Plan is the guideline for the responsible parties where there is described how the property would be preserved in short, medium and long-term scenarios, based in the international, national and regional legislation and policies and with the support of the various level of stakeholders.

This Management Plan has duration of 5 years (2018-2023) in this period of time the objectives fixed in the MP should be achieved, every year the site management should analyze data about the result of the action realized to show the evolution of the Management Plan. This document is an on-going document that could be modified in case that some actions would not give the expected results.


The archeological city of Madinat al-Zahra is located in Córdoba (Spain) to 8 km of the city. This city was built by Abderraman III in 936-940. The city was built on three natural terraces, the higher and medium was dedicated to the Alcazar (castle) and the lower for residences. The archaeological remains included: ceremonial reception halls, mosques, administrative and government offices, gardens, a mint, workshops, barracks residences and baths. This city was built as symbol of power of the Caliph to received international ambassadors and kings. In 1010 it was destroyed during the riots which brought about the end of this Caliphate. After, the city was abandoned and forgotten, and for this reason, the city has been conserved. The first excavation in the site was in 1911 and today the work continues, because only the 11% of the total has been excavated. After the first excavation this city was declared BIC (Property of Cultural Interest) in 1923.

The decoration of this structure is one of the most important examples of parietal Arabic decoration realized in marble with vegetable and geometric motifs, columns of diverse colors, epigraphic inscriptions on the pilasters, bi- colored horseshoes arches, rich plastering, fountains, gardens, and sculptures as the famous “Cervatillo”. 

The city occupied an area walled of 1500 meters cross East-West and 750 meters North-South. Outside of the fortification it was founded remains of infrastructure as roads, aqueducts, etc. 

Until this moment the buildings that have been discovered are the following: Casa de los Visires, Salones de Embajadores, Gran Pórtico, Salón Rico, Mezquita, Casa de la Alberca, Casa de Yafar y la Casa Real, Muralla, Patio and roads.

Source: Museos de Andalusia. Medina Azahara

In 2009 a museum (situated 1.5 km from the site from to not perturbate the landscape) was opened to the public. It consists in: reception areas, presentation room, auditorium, information center and areas dedicated to the research and the conservation of the site as: research work, restoration workshops, storehouse for goods, library, etc. It has been awarded 2 important international prizes, the Aga Khan prize of Architecture (2010) and the Prize for the Best European Museum (2012).

Link to the virtual visit


This chapter describes the different groups of stakeholders that participant in the MP of Madinat al-Zahra. The stakeholders are a fundamental part to the correct development of the MP. Normally the number of stakeholders is limited and “exclusive” (government, local authorities, researchers, etc) but really many different groups are responsible of the conservation of the property.  In the case of Madinat al-Zahra, the stakeholders are the following:

-UNESCO: United Nation Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization responsible to World Heritage Program.

-ICOMOS: International Council of Monument and Site. Global no-governmental organization that works in the conservation of World Heritage sites, based in the principles of Venice Charter. It is an Advisory Body of World Heritage Convention.

-ICCROM: International Center for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage. Global no-governmental organization and it is one of the Advisory Bodies of World Heritage Cultural.

-IUCN: International Union for Conservation of Nature. Global no-governmental organization and it is one of the Advisory Bodies of World Heritage Convention.

-Europe:European Commission. Culture sector support.

-National Level:Ministry of Culture. 

-Regional Level:Junta de Andalusia. Council of Culture and Council of Tourism.

-Provincial Level:Emergency Management Agencies, Local Transport Authority

-Local Level:City Hall and University of Cordoba (UCO).

-NGOs:Madinat al-Zahra Friends Association; ADEPA (Defense of Historical Heritage Association); Hispania Nostra; Arts, Archaeology and History of Cordoba; Neighbors’ Association “Las Pitas”.

-Other Institutions:Foundations and private donors.


This chapter is the core of the Management Plan that provides a framework for the effective management of the property. It identifies the issues that affected the different elements of Outstanding Universal Value, it describes the principles of the Management Plan, the issues, the objectives to short, medium and long-term, the actions that should be taken for the effective implementation, the responsible to realize the different actions and the financing sources.

Madinat al-Zahra was during a long period of the time, forgotten and neglected, for one hand this situation allowed that its ruins had been conserved in perfect conditions until 1911 when the first excavations began, but in the other hand, in this situation of abandonment the city suffered during centuries numerous plundering (the experts say that since 1236 when the construction of the new castellan city began). In the present time this problem is resolved. Other problem that affected the site was and is the illegal construction of country house in the protected area nearby. Nowadays, the constructions are forbidden and the City Hall joined by the Urban Planning Agency are trying to regularize this situation, with policies and agreement with the neighbors. Actually this situation is not affecting to the conservation and preservation of the archeological site in itself, because the nearby construction are located in the buffer zone only. Now, one of the problems is to visit Madinat al-Zahra due to the lack of public transportation from the city center to the site (ca.8 kms), because there are only two bus in the morning (10:15 and 11:00 returning at 13:30 and 14:15). Other problem is the price and the duration of the visit, the ticket to enter in the site is free but the price of the bus is: adult: 8.50€ and children: 4.50€, this price also a shuttle ride from the parking lot of the entry bus to the archaeological site that is circa 1,5 kms. of distance. If the visitors use their car must pay 2.50 for the shuttle. This situation cause big lines to buy the tickets for the bus and for the monument. This situation complicates the visit its bearing counts more if we keep in mind that the normally tourists that visit Cordoba are not staying more than two days. Some of them do not have the possibility of visit the caliphal city.

Having present this situation and with the principal objective to conserve the OUV, the authenticity and the integrity of the property for the future generations, in the following table are described the themes and objectives that should be achieved with the development of this Management Plan, the temporality, the principal stakeholders and the financial resources. More detailed are described the actions that the site management would have to realize to reach the final purpose of this document.






















In this point will describe the different actions that would be set in motion for every one of the objectives previously indicated in the table. 


-To create a Management Plan  Body in charge of protection, conservation and administration.

1. Establishment of “Madinat Azahara Board” in charge of the all affairs of the property and which purpose is to achieve the aims of conservation, protection and administration of the site. This organism would be form by: 

2.Expert Committee as maximum representative body 

3.Permanent Commission in charge of control and realize the Committee’s agreements

4.Direction Board as executive and management body

5.Technical Commission as consulted body in general affairs

-Awareness of the value of the site

1.Collaboration Program with a regional Primary and High Schools with didactic visits to the archaeological city and the museum.

2.Creation of a Volunteers Body with the objective of going to local schools offering “mini-conferences” about the myth of Madinat al-Zahra and its history.

-To finish the excavation’s work.

1.Continuation of the excavation program. At present only 11% of the property is excavated, the labor of the archaeological team are continuous and there are big superficies to discover, to study and to value.


-To increase number of visitors

1. One day a month the bus Cordoba-Madinat al-Zahra would be free for all public.

2. Discount ticket for families of more than 3 members, for the unemployed and for students.

-To create Public Transport Line

1. Start up of a regular line of public bus with 3 bus-stops: Roman Bridge, Vial Norte (Central Train Station and Bus Terminal) and Madinat al-Zahra, with one bus every hour.

-To improve the interpretation of the site and the visitor’s experience

1. Museum: Projection of a 3D Animation with the reconstruction of the city that shows the history of the construction, the different kind of builds, life style of the inhabitants, etc.


-To reduce the impact of the traffic through public transportation

1. Increase of the number of bus to the archaeological city, ex: one every hour.

2. Promotion of bike path

-Use of sustainable transport

1. The regular line of bus would be realized with hybrid bus to reduce CO²emission. A part of this, the hybrid vehicles (electric and bio-diesel motor) have other advantages: financial benefits, less dependence on fossil fuel, regenerative breaking system and structure built from light materials.

 -Natural Buffer-Zone around the site

1. The limited of the buffer-zone would be covered with local trees and plants. The design of the “garden” would be realized considering a specific cultural (Islamic) and the landscape. The purpose of this action is to beautify the area, to create a green area to improve the experience of the visitors.


-To close the non-secure areas until archaeological and maintenance works terminated

1. Enclose by protective barriers the non-secure areas until the work is ended.

-To protect the site from the river floods and heavy rains 

1. Construction of water canalization and protection structures where would be necessary to avoid the damage to the archaeological site because the climate change is causing heavy rain in autumn and spring.

-To prevent mudslides

1. Enforcement of the land with the plantation of rooting plants, rocks, containment barriers, etc.


-To design a communication plan

-To involved the community in the conservation of this property should be design a communication plan based in: 

1. CP to all level: Articles in specialized tourism and cultural heritage magazines, tourism guides in different languages aside from Spanish (English, French, German, Russian and Chinese and Japanese and Arabic), ads on regional and local TVs and participation in specialized fairs.

2.  Annual conference program reporting the new findings and studies of the city.

3. Activities to the weekend for families and individuals in the installations of the archaeological site as for ex: photo contest, painting outdoors, games, etc. join with the local NGOs

4. Creation of an on-line platform where the citizens can share opinions, suggestions, information, etc. and the site management informs of news, events, activities, novelty, etc.

5. Web site and social media 


-To limit the number of visitors/trip

Limitation of numbers of visitants for a good experience for the visitors, so, the number the visitors for hour should not overcome the 100 persons (ex: one 50 px/bus + 50 independent visitors)

-To management the waste collection

The City Hall should provide a garbage collection service where every day the organic residues should be collected and one day in the week should be collected inorganic residues (paper, glass and plastics).

-To promote the use in situ of alternative energy generation

Installation of solar energy panels to provide enough energy for a proper operation of the installations. 



-To create a Doctoral Internship in Archaeology Applied Studies

Creation of an International Internship Program for student of Archaeology of one year of duration. This program would be started with the collaboration of UCO and site management. A scholarship program would be attached: 1 full-scholarship and pension, 2 full scholarships and 2½ scholarships.

-To Create a Post-Doctoral Fellowship specific to Madinat al-Zahra site

Creation of an International Fellowship Program for student of History, History of Art, Archaeology and Humanities,  which work is based in the archaeological city of Madinat al-Zahra.




Monitoring is a control tools that analyze the data for specific purpose and its evaluation, to control if the Management Plan are being effective, if the management system is delivering right results (outputs and outcomes), requiring, amongst other things, monitoring of the property itself, and depending of the results to establish what remedial measures or new initiatives are to be taken in the event of shortcomings or even when new opportunities have being identified. 

The general effectiveness of the management system: whether administrative objectives are reached, whether processes perform well, whether actions that have been implemented have respected cost, quality and time targets, whether all disciplines are contributing appropriately to decision-making, and whether results and other inputs are feeding back into the system and informing future practices. 

The results of the management system: the state of the site, whether heritage values are being protected, whether there are changes in authenticity and integrity, the environmental conditions, the rate of physical deterioration of the heritage, and the degree of social engagement.

As it is indicated previously, this Management Plan would have duration of 5 years and the monitoring would be realized in biannual form with an evaluation at the end of every year. As an integral part of the daily maintenance and management of the site, the party is ultimately responsible for arranging monitoring appointments. To this end the states party work together closely with the site manager of the administrative authority, who annually reviews the condition of the site. Every six years, the state party is requested to file a report with the World Heritage Committee regarding the conservation status of the World Heritage sites on their territory based on the questionnaire designed by this committee. The methodology to realize the Monitoring Report is to analyze the indicators, data collection and the verification of all information collected. The information sources to realize the monitoring would be: National Institute’s Statistic, Andalusia Institute’s Statistic, City Hall database and the data obtained in the reception center of the site, about number of visitors, incidences, participation on the on-line platform, etc.

The following chart would be the Monitoring Matrix:


-This Management Plan has a principal objective the conservation of the Outstanding Universal Value  of the Archaeological Site of Madinat al-Zahra and to protect it for the enjoyment for the future generations. 


-The Management Plan is focus in the principal themes that affected to the property actually: Heritage Conservation, Tourism, Environmental, Risk Preparedness, Local Community, Sustainable Use and Research Strategy.


-It presents specific objectives that would be achieve realizing the actions designed and with the cooperation of the stakeholders.


So, in general terms, this Management Plan pretends:

-To minimize the consequences of the damage that the property suffered in the past as much as possible.

-To resolve the problems those affect the property in the present

-To improve the general conditions so the property “will have a future”

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