Mudejar Architecture of Aragon

Discover the Medieval avant-garde in the valleys of Zaragoza

UNESCO World Heritage

Tobed, Church of the Virgen de Tobed

Cervera de la Cañada, Church of Santa Tecla by Mudejar Architecture of Aragon - Territorio MudéjarUNESCO World Heritage

The Mudejar Architecture of Aragon is a cultural fusion between the East and West. It was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in December 2001 for its “universality, uniqueness and authenticity”.

This recognition was the culmination of a journey started 15 years earlier, when in 1986 the Mudejar of the city of Teruel was also declared a World Heritage site, triggering the process of promotion and rediscovery of an art that was previously less appreciated.

Calatayud, Tower and cloister of Santa María by Mudejar Architecture of Aragon - Territorio MudéjarUNESCO World Heritage

Mudejar art, exclusive to Spain, reflects the history of Aragon in an architecture whose development in the countryside is surprising, due to how it contrasts with the perception people used to have of rural art.

A cultured architecture that nevertheless connects with everyday life in a territory rich with intelligence and beauty.

Zaragoza, Wall of the Parroquieta de La Seo by Mudejar Architecture of Aragon - Territorio MudéjarUNESCO World Heritage

Mudejar is often spoken about as Christian architecture executed by the Mudejars, the Muslims who stayed behind in a territory conquered by Christian power. However, this definition is much too simple to successfully explain the complexity of this art developed over several centuries.

Cervera de la Cañada, Church of Santa Tecla by Mudejar Architecture of Aragon - Territorio MudéjarUNESCO World Heritage

Mudejar style is appreciated today thanks to the places that surprise us with the beauty of their hamlets, perfectly designed for the terrain of the landscapes. It is an excellent example of a type of construction that developed a unique technology over a period of almost five centuries thanks to the coexistence of traditions and cultures as well as a combination of building methods.

Tobed, Church of the Virgen de Tobed by Mudejar Architecture of Aragon - Ayuntamiento de TobedUNESCO World Heritage

Although the UNESCO World Heritage inscription includes ten component buildings of this style, the long list of monumental buildings preserved in Aragon, especially in the province of Zaragoza, is just the tip of the iceberg of a rich culture created through the exchange of knowledge and experience between Christians, Muslims and Jews.

This acted as a true avant-garde movement in the Middle Ages and put its own stamp on each town’s architecture, influencing urbanism, the landscape and society.

Mudejar site context. Torralba de Ribota. Not inscribed site. by Mudejar Architecture of Aragon - Territorio MudéjarUNESCO World Heritage

While Mudejar buildings in cities like Zaragoza or Teruel started a trend and were presented as state-of-the-art movements in the Middle Ages, the valleys would have acted as transmitters of this style, favouring means of communication and influence that materialised in the works of the villages.

Cervera de la Cañada, Church of Santa Tecla by Mudejar Architecture of Aragon - Territorio MudéjarUNESCO World Heritage

The Islamic tradition, very much present in Aragon since the 8th century, was integrated into new historical contexts arising from the Christian conquerors of the 12th century. Christian elites continued to commission Muslim labour, and this continued the Islamic artistic system, resulting in the survival of the Muslim style.

Tobed, Emblem of Benedicto XIII, Papa Luna, Church of the Virgen de Tobed by Mudejar Architecture of AragonUNESCO World Heritage

A clientele that, in Aragon, was characterized by its historical senior figures: kings, prelates, nobles, priors of military orders and even a pope -Benedict XIII (Pope Luna), who carried out many projects in which the Mudejar working system, known for its extraordinary efficiency and speed, is strengthened by the undeniable beauty achieved by using materials that spring from local valleys and mountains. Here is the emblem of Benedicto XIII, Papa Luna.

Tobed, Church of the Virgen de Tobed, Mudejar Architecture of Aragon - Territorio Mudéjar, From the collection of: UNESCO World Heritage
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Cervera de la Cañada, Church of Santa Tecla, Mudejar Architecture of Aragon - Territorio Mudéjar, From the collection of: UNESCO World Heritage
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The Mudejar working system, known for its extraordinary efficiency and speed, is strengthened by the undeniable beauty achieved by the materials.  

Tobed, Church of the Virgen de Tobed by Mudejar Architecture of Aragon - Territorio MudéjarUNESCO World Heritage

Variations of red in clays, shades of white in plaster, wood, iron and gloss of glazed ceramics, reminiscent of flickering light in nature, become towers, churches, palaces and urban environments in harmony with the landscape, shape, colours and textures.

These monuments were created and nowadays they still remain as smart and sustainable buildings in such a way as to reflect the magnificence of the surroundings.

Zaragoza, tower of the church of San Pablo by Mudejar Architecture of Aragon - Parroquia de San PabloUNESCO World Heritage

But we can´t forget that, in the same way, these materials play an essential decorative role that embellish urban centres without losing the formal integrity of the surrounding towns and scenic landscape.

Calatayud, Mudejar tower of San Andrés by Mudejar Architecture of AragonUNESCO World Heritage

Other buildings in this city, such as the tower of San Andrés or the remains of the cloister of the collegiate church of the Santo Sepulcro continue to show the importance of Calatayud during its Mudejar period.

Teruel, tower of the church of El Salvador, Mudejar Architecture of Aragon - Territorio Mudéjar, From the collection of: UNESCO World Heritage
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Zaragoza, Palace of Pedro IV of the Aljafería, Mudejar Architecture of Aragon - Territorio Mudéjar, From the collection of: UNESCO World Heritage
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Examples include the Palace of Pedro IV in the Aljafería, the San Pablo church tower or the walls of La Seo, in Zaragoza; as well as the towers in Teruel.  

Mudejar site context. Daroca. Not inscribed site by Mudejar Architecture of Aragon - Territorio MudéjarUNESCO World Heritage

Along with the magnificent Mudejar sites of Tarazona, Borja and Daroca, which have preserved some of the best examples of civil and religious Mudejar architecture, Calatayud has stood since antiquity as a city of extraordinary economic, social and cultural influence. This explains its large number of Mudejar style buildings.

Calatayud, Tower and apse of the Colegiata de Santa María by Mudejar Architecture of Aragon - Territorio MudéjarUNESCO World Heritage

The collegiate church of Santa María la Mayor of Calatayud has preserved from its Mudejar construction the work of the master Mahoma Rami.

Calatayud, Cloister of Santa María by Mudejar Architecture of Aragon - Territorio MudéjarUNESCO World Heritage

Apse, cloister and tower are a magnificent Mudejar complex and the tower, standing at 72 m high, is the tallest in Aragon.

Calatayud, Tower of Santa María by Mudejar Architecture of Aragon - Territorio MudéjarUNESCO World Heritage

Mudejar natural site. Grio’s valley. Tobed by Mudejar Architecture of Aragon - Territorio MudéjarUNESCO World Heritage

Yet it’s in the affluent Ebro and Jalon valleys where this art can really be appreciated: towers, churches, palaces and urban environments in harmony with shapes, colours and textures that form landscapes of breath-taking beauty enriched by variations of light and seasons.

Tobed, Church of the Virgen de Tobed by Mudejar Architecture of Aragon - Territorio MudéjarUNESCO World Heritage

The church of the Virgen de Tobed, in Tobed, and the parish church of Santa Tecla in Cervera de la Cañada, located in glorious hamlets, show us the origin and continuity of these fortress-like churches. Built in just under one century, today they stand as long lasting and functional buildings mirroring the magnificence of nature.

Tobed, Church of the Virgen de Tobed. 3D by Mudejar Architecture of Aragon - Ayuntamiento de TobedUNESCO World Heritage

Cervera de la Cañada, Church of Santa Tecla, Mudejar Architecture of Aragon - Territorio Mudéjar, From the collection of: UNESCO World Heritage
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Cervera de la Cañada, Church of Santa Tecla. 3D, Mudejar Architecture of Aragon - Territorio Mudéjar, From the collection of: UNESCO World Heritage
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Mudejar site context. Aniñón. Not inscribed site by Mudejar Architecture of Aragon - Territorio MudéjarUNESCO World Heritage

The result is a Mudejar Territory imprinted with sublime locations that are respectful of both the countryside and its inhabitants. These influences are reflected in a unique heritage that transcends the borders of Aragon.

Mudejar Architecture of Aragon by Mudejar Architecture of AragonUNESCO World Heritage

Mudejar Territory, Our identity

Credits: Story

This exhibit was created by the Diputación de Zaragoza and the Mudejar Territory association 
www.dpz.es / www.territoriomudejar.es

More on Mudejar Architecture of Aragon and World Heritage: whc.unesco.org/en/list/378/

Photos: Mudejar Territory/Irene Ruiz Bazán, Mudejar Territory/Victoria E. Trasobares Ruiz, Sergio Garcia-iglesia de San Pablo, Santiago Cabello-DPZ

Video: Our identity. Mudejar Territory/Mario Gutierrez-Miguel Bielsa-locución Sara Lambán
Photogrammetry: Mudejar Territory/Luis Agustín-Miguel Sancho-Beatriz Martín

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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