A walk through the archaeological site of Medina Siyasa

To reach the archaeological site of Medina Siyasa, we must go to the province of Murcia. About six kilometers from the town of Cieza, we will discover the remains of one of the most prosperous towns of the Arab era, located between the Vega Alta and the Vega Media del Segura.

Between the 11th and 13th centuries, on the Cerro del Castillo on the banks of the Segura River, was the city of Madina Siyasa. The Andalusian community that founded this town chose the upper area of ​​a hill to settle. The choice of the site was due to the high visibility of all the terrains of both the Segura river plain and the Ricote valley, as well as the rest of the surrounding fortified towns.

History and description of Medina Siyasa

Although only 19 houses have been excavated today, it is estimated that there are around 750 houses in Medina Siyasa. In addition to the structures of the houses, we can also walk through its streets and its walls.

According to the excavations carried out and those that are pending, it seems that the city could have had around 4000 inhabitants. It is one of the most important and best preserved Andalusian cities in the Iberian Peninsula.

The walled enclosures

Medina Siyasa shows, like many Andalusian cities, a fortress that protects the city, which is located at the top. Likewise, we can see an area where the houses protected by a wall are located. These two walled enclosures are:

  • One in the lower part, which was called albacar and that it served to defend the population of the city in case it suffered an attack.
  • Another in the upper part called celoquía, located in the area closest to the castle and was used for the defense of the inhabitants. The top was protected by a two-story square tower, which was the place with the best view in the entire town.

From the structure of the city, we highlight the network of narrow and intricate streets with each other and the total absence of open spaces in the city.

The way of life inside the houses

Muslim families lived inside their houses, not outside. Hence, the traveler who goes to see the archaeological site of Medina Siyasa may find it strange that most houses do not have windows to the outside.

In the already excavated area, we can see that the construction was made with stone that was later decorated with plaster and paint. Inside some of the houses, the decoration was spectacular. Excavations have turned up artistic remains of great beauty, and many are now in the museum.

The houses were entered through a hall that was designed to preserve the privacy of the inhabitants of each house. Then you reach the central patio, which is the main element of the house and from where the rest of the rooms of each house were accessed.

The kitchen is one of the largest rooms in the house. In some houses, adobe ovens have been found where unleavened or unleavened bread, typical of Arab cuisine, was cooked. Another of the important rooms was the so-called “tinajero” where the water was stored.. In the excavations, jars, jars and ewers related to the use of water have been found.

The halls were the most distinguished rooms of the houses, and this was evident in the ornamentation of their arches. Many had a small alcove that served as a visiting room. Some of the houses had two rooms, one for winter and one for summer.

On the other hand, the houses had latrines that emptied into cesspools in the lower part of the houses or into canals that discharged directly into the hill.

The Siyasa Museum

To complete the visit, we should not leave without visiting the Cieza Museum, where remains from the different excavation campaigns that have been carried out there are preserved. In this sense, a group of arches that were found in archaeological works stands out.

In addition, the museum contains samples of rock art from prehistoric times, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

The Andalusian legacy of Medina Siyasa

Medina de Siyasa was a prosperous city within the Muslim kingdom of Murcia. It was located at a crossroads from the coast to the interior and from the north to the south of the Peninsula. It was an area of ​​geostrategic importance with good resources, natural defenses and climatewhich was reconquered by the Crown of Castile after the signing of the Treaty of Alcaraz in 1243.

In the 1980s, the excavations began that today allow us to enjoy this archaeological site of Medina Siyasa. If you come to visit it, you will get an idea of ​​what an Andalusian city was like in the 12th and 13th centuries.

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