Córdoba is a city in Andalusia, southern Spain, and the capital of the province of Córdoba. The first trace of human presence in the area are remains of a Neanderthal Man, dating to c. 42,000 to 35,000 BC. The old town contains numerous architectural reminders of both the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire. It is known that a Roman Forum existed here in 113 BC and the famous Cordoba Treasure, which mixes local and Roman artistic traditions and can now be found at the British Museum, was buried in the city during this time. It was the capital of Hispania Ulterior during the Roman Republic and capital of Hispania Ulterior Baetica during Julius Caesar’s Roman Empire.
Córdoba came under Islamic rule in the eighth century, eventually becoming the capital of the Caliphate of Córdoba, which included most of the Iberian Peninsula. It has been estimated that in the 10th century Córdoba was the most populous city in the world (estimates range between 350,000 and 1,000,000), and under the rule of Caliph Al Hakam II it had also become a center for education. Al Hakam II opened many libraries in addition to the many medical schools and universities which existed at this time. Córdoba was one of the most advanced cities in the world as well as a great cultural, political, financial and economic center. The Great Mosque of Córdoba dates back to this time. Under Al-Hakam II the city had 3,000 mosques, 300 public baths, and what was then the largest library in the world, housing from 400,000 to 1,000,000 volumes. The historic center was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.