The Provincial Heritage Commission of the Delegation of Tourism, Culture and Sports, chaired by the territorial delegate, Eduardo Lucena, has reported favorably about the project presented for the modification and restoration of the drains on the roof of the Hall of Abd al-Rahman III in the caliphal city of Medina Azahara.

The objective is to solve the problem caused by these drains by four sheet metal gargoyles located on the south façade of the Rico Hall, which is currently under construction to replace its decorative material. Splashes and humidity seriously affect the conservation of the calcarenite stone of the façadewhich justifies this project before the completion of the façade restoration works.

Divert the waters

The objective of diverting water from the roof To prevent them from pouring through the current gargoyles, it is proposed by changing the slopes of the current construction gutter, which runs along the south façade of the Rico Hall, just above the reinforced concrete cornices. To achieve this, the bottom of the existing gutter will be lowered, so that a minimum slope of 1% is achieved and, later, the area will be waterproofed with resin and downspouts will be installed at the ends. The latter start from semicircular basins, they will be hidden behind the buttresses or beginnings of the wall of the side structures of the room and they will be fixed throughout their height by means of clamps and plugs applied directly to the 20th century masonry. Both the bowls and the downspouts will be made of zinc with the patina treated to prevent them from shining.

On the western side, the downspout will be hidden behind the volume of the parlor, which stands out from the interior naves, and will be connected to a new work chest executed with archaeological supervision. From this, a new buried concrete collector will connect with the existing manhole, into which the exterior toilet cubicle also drains. Both this manhole and the buried PVC pipe are in poor condition, so they must be replaced.

On the eastern side, the zinc downspout will be hidden behind the male which begins the missing façade of the rooms attached to the living room. It will be connected to a PVC pipe installed on the wall of these rooms until it meets the original gap of a missing pipe that descends to the upper platform and crosses it to the south in an original gap existing in the ashlar pavement. From here, it descends to the lower platform of the garden and crosses it to end up in the perimeter canal. The wall is overgrown with masonry, preserving only two courses of original ashlar that will not be affected. To hide the passage of the drain above the door opening, wooden lintels will be placed occupying the entire thickness of the wall and it will be increased with two courses of masonry. The passage through the tube platform will be resolved with new artificial stone covers similar to the existing concrete ones but with the color of calcarenite, for the passage of visitors.

Plastering with lime mortar

At the crown ends of the hall façade there is a small brickwork area. By modifying the outlet of the channel towards these ends, it will be used to replace this brick volume with calcarenite masonry. Likewise, the eastern and western sides of the Hall were finished with courses of brick which were plastered with lime mortar. The concrete cornice is in a poor state of conservation, so it is proposed to treat its faces with restoration mortars and seal the joints between the large blocks that make it up. Finally, the intervention will be completed with the replacement of tiles displaced by the wind and the replacement of broken tiles with new ones of the same size and color.

To travel along the ledge, temporary construction railings and a steel cable lifeline will be installed that will remain once the intervention is completed. Given that the work will be carried out coinciding with the works on the façade of the Hall, the compatibility between both interventions is based on delimiting the areas occupied by each one with marking tape so that they do not interfere.

First archaeological actions

The first archaeological actions in Medina Azahara were made at the beginning of the 20th century. At that time the first declaration as a National Historical Monument was made. In 1996 the protection zone was expanded and in application of current legislation it was declared as an Asset of Cultural Interest with the category of Archaeological Zone by Decree. Finally, the Asset of Cultural Interest called the Medina Azahara Archaeological Zone is expanded again.

The protection of the caliphal city is completed by complying with the Spanish Historical Heritage Law, which stipulates that “the declaration of a Historical Complex, Historical Site or Archaeological Zone, as Assets of Cultural Interest, will determine the obligation for the Municipality or Municipalities in which they are located to draft a Special Protection Plan for the area affected by the declaration or another planning instrument of those provided for in the urban legislation that complies in all cases with the requirements established in this Law. Thus, the autonomous administration itself promoted the drafting of the Special Plan for Medina Azahara and its surroundings, which was approved by the Plenary of the Córdoba City Council in 1998.

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