On the south side of the Catedral Almudena, is the Muralla Árabe, the 9th century wall that stands between the cathedral and the park honoring Madrid’s Muslim founder, Mohammed I.
This wall once enclosed the southern perimeter of the small palace fortress and its out-tower, which stood respectively where today’s Royal Palace and Almudena Cathedral stand.
The upper settlement of the fortress and out-tower was referred to in Arabic as hisn (fortress) and albakar (in Spanish, albacara, the protective out-tower to the fortress).
Once entirely for defense, the Muralla Árabe is now a beloved place among modern Madrileños for outdoor concerts and art events. It was also in this area south of the Almudena that the Muslims of Madrid lived.
Another 9th century wall once enclosed this southern end and extended to wrap around the area beneath the fortress on the eastern side, creating a small citadel, almudayna. Then, after Madrid fell to the Christians, a 12th century wall was built south of the almudayna to further extend the fortified city.
Over the centuries, both the 9th and the 12th century walls were torn down to make room for a continually expanding city. But every now and then, a portion of the old medieval walls appears during a building renovation or street alteration.
The best place to see the stone work of 9th century Madrid is still here at the Muralla Árabe. You can also make out one of the heavy towers, one of several that paced the sentries’ watch over the hinterland.