CÓRDOBA'S spectacular Medina Azahara monument will apply to become a UNESCO heritage site next year.
Secretary of State for culture José María Lassalle presided the latest meeting of the southern city's heritage committee on Friday and reports that the decision to become a candidate in 2017 was 'unanimous', with 'no hesitation' and 'applauded warmly by all those present'.
The committee has to highlight the 'exceptional' nature of the structure to be in with a chance of gaining the UNESCO tag, and is now working on ways of doing so.
Lassalle says the Medina Azahara is a 'unique historical and artistic complex' which is of special interest, not only for Spain, but for western civilisation as a whole.
The Medina Azahara – which in Arabic was Madīnat al-Zahrā – was a city-palace commissioned by the Caliph Abd al-Rahman III al-Nâsir about eight kilometres from the city centre in the Sierra Morena mountains.
Legend has it that he named it after his favourite woman, Azahara, although its name translates from Arabic as 'bright city' - Madīnat, or Medina being the name for a town or city centre and, nowadays, the historic quarters of existing urban areas.
Founded in the year 936 in what was then the Caliphate of Córdoba, the Madīnat al-Zahrā has been dubbed 'the Versailles of the Middle Ages'.
It is open to the public from 09.00hrs to 15.30hrs.