In the 10th Century, Cordoba was not just the capital of Al Andalus (Moorish Spain) but also one of the most important cities in the world, rivaling Baghdad and Constantinople. It boasted a population of 500,000 (200,000 more than now) and had street lighting, fifty hospitals with running water, three hundred public baths, five hundred mosques and seventy libraries, one of which held over 500,000 books.
The Moorish achievement in hydraulic engineering was outstanding. They constructed an aqueduct that conveyed water from the mountains to the city through lead pipes.
All of this at a time when London had a largely illiterate population of around 20,000 and had forgotten the technical advances of the Romans some 600 hundred years before. Paved and lighted streets did not appear in London or Paris until hundreds of years later.
The “father of modern surgery,” Abu al-Quasim (Al Zahrawi), was a Moor who was born in Cordoba. During a practice that lasted fifty years, he developed a range of innovative and precise surgical instruments while writing a textbook that was to be a cornerstone of Western medical training for the next 500 years.