The Museum of Madinat al-Zahra opened to the public in October 2009. It is a complex with areas befitting a modern museum and it contains the whole infrastructure required for heritage management at an archaeological ensemble of the size of the Caliphate city. The building is designed to be the starting point of a tour of the site with an introduction and museum exhibition of Madinat al-Zahra.
The creation of the Museum resolves various problems that have arisen since the site began to be recovered in 1911. The first building was intended to give support to excavation work but soon became obsolete because of the huge amount of archaeological material stored there and the lack of exhibition spaces.
The Museum will also provide a solution to various requirements at the ensemble, both in terms of promotional and educational programmes and the tasks of supervision and preservation which have been entrusted to the institution.
A key feature of the building is its location outside the city; it uses one of the original access roads so as not to affect future excavations or their extension in area. The new infrastructure's commitment to the site also extends to the landscape, since the development project designed by architect's studio Nieto and Sobejano partially hide the building within its setting avoiding any interference with an appreciation of the landscape and the crucial leading role played by the Calphate city.
In short, this is an infrastructure created to help gain an insight into the site and to develop its potential at all levels. It is conceived as an infrastructure which can underpin new research, conservation and promotion projects at the city and all aspects of land management in the area around it. It has the following services:
Cultural, exhibition and educational area:
- An auditorium, areas for audio-visual shows and courses, conferences and other educational projects.
- The permanent exhibition area shows the history and context of the Caliphate city using interactive and audio-visual tools; the most important pieces in the collection are on display.
- The "Manual Ocaña" Specialist Library
The library is intended to be a resource centre for training and research, its goal being to cater to the information needs of related institutions and the general public and acting as a support tool for scientific research.
Users will be able to enjoy a public space and meeting place in which they can consult an extensive bibliography on the Islamic world in general, and "Madinat al-Zahra" in particular.
It has a document collection consisting of thousands of volumes; its the subject matter mainly centres on the Andalusí Islamic world with a special focus on archaeology covering areas as diverse as history, art, architecture, epigraphy, coins and so on. It also contains a wide bibliography on the rest of the Islamic world and Medieval Europe.
- The lecture hall is for workshops and specific school-oriented events. - The seminar room is intended for meetings, committees and courses connected with the site's heritage dynamic.
Conservation and research area:
- Storage rooms in which archaeological material collected at Madinat al-Zahra care is kept under optimal conditions. - Restoration workshops, for the work on preventive conservation and restoration required by the moveable assets. - A documentation centre, devoted to classifying the administrative and research documentation generated by the ensemble. - Offices for administrative and research work reserved for the technical staff at the ensemble and colleagues from other centres.
- Book and souvenir shop with reproduction ceramics, jewellery, stationery and other items. - Cafeteria-restaurant (CLOSED TEMPORARILY)