Territorio Mudéjar and the Council of Zaragoza are celebrating today the 20th anniversary of the declaration of the Zaragoza Mudejar as World Heritage. On 14th December 2001, just two decades ago, UNESCO included six Mudejar monuments in the province of Zaragoza on its World Heritage List, thus extending the maximum recognition it had given 15 years earlier to the Mudejar of Teruel.

“The declaration of our Mudejar as World Heritage was a fundamental milestone that boosted the promotion, dissemination and international recognition of a genuinely Hispanic style in which Aragon, in general, and the province of Zaragoza, in particular, stand out as an artistic focus”, stresses the president of the Zaragoza Provincial Council and of Territorio Mudéjar, Juan Antonio Sánchez Quero. “That is why Territorio Mudéjar, the association of municipalities promoted by the Provincial Council, has spent months commemorating the 20th anniversary of an event that we will continue to celebrate throughout 2022 with an intense programme of activities aimed at both the general population and a more specialised public”.

The importance and scope of the Mudejar

The six Mudejar monuments in Zaragoza recognised as World Heritage by UNESCO are the apse, cloister and tower of the collegiate church of Santa María de Calatayud; the church of Santa Tecla de Cervera de la Cañada; the church of Santa María de Tobed; the Mudejar remains of the Aljafería palace; the tower and church of San Pablo de Zaragoza; and the apse, the Parroquieta and the dome of La Seo cathedral of Zaragoza. However, the uniqueness and scope of this style extends to more than a hundred examples of heritage in dozens of Zaragoza municipalities, so that Mudejar is present in 85% of the province’s territory.

“Mudejar is usually spoken of as Christian architecture carried out by the Mudejars, i.e. the Muslims who remained in the territory conquered by Christian power. However, the reality is that we are dealing with a much more complex phenomenon that has its roots in the arrival of the Islamic tradition in the Iberian Peninsula since the 8th century and whose influences took on their own form in the Christian era between the 13th and 16th centuries”, explains the director of Territorio Mudéjar, Victoria Trasobares. “The Mudejar is an encounter between Islamic and Christian art, the result of the coexistence of cultures in medieval Spain. An art that represents the most genuine artistic manifestation of Spain and that has in Aragon, a land of frontiers and a melting pot of cultures, its greatest exponent”, says this expert in cultural and heritage management.

Today’s activities

Territorio Mudéjar is commemorating the 20th anniversary of its declaration as World Heritage today with a meeting of researchers to be held in Tobed, bringing together those responsible for many of the more than 30 projects launched by this organisation since its foundation. The aim of these initiatives is to deepen the knowledge of Mudejar art from different perspectives and to generate and promote local development projects based on Mudejar heritage resources: construction materials, popular architecture and its conservation, relationship between Mudejar and agricultural heritage, podcast to learn about the territory, guide to historic Mudejar carpentry, models of cultural management and restoration projects, educational materials to interpret the Mudejar in primary and secondary schools, plastic studies on Mudejar geometry, Mudejar art in the performing arts (music, dance and minstrelsy), digital inventories and virtual reconstruction of Mudejar buildings or maps of the territory through memories and emotions to broaden the view of what it means to be Mudejar…

In addition, this evening the radio programme La Brújula Aragón on Onda Cero will dedicate a special monographic programme to the Zaragoza Mudejar which can be heard from 19.20 onwards and which, among many other contents, will deal with the project ‘Territorio Mudéjar Intelligent Signposting’, which will bring together all the contents created over the last three years by Territorio Mudéjar to put them at the service of the inhabitants of the municipalities, visitors and knowledge of the heritage in situ linked to renowned international projects.

Promotional campaign and other commemorations

On the other hand, the Council of Zaragoza has just launched a publicity campaign on the occasion of the anniversary of the UNESCO declaration. Under the slogan ‘Zaragoza, Mudejar province: come and meet yourself’, the campaign vindicates the importance and potential of this unique heritage that is an engine of development for the territory and that also forms part of the identity of the inhabitants of the province of Zaragoza. Although it has been launched around the anniversary of the 14th December, the adverts will be present on television, press, radio and social networks over the next few months.

In addition, over the coming year Territorio Mudéjar will continue to commemorate 20 years of World Heritage with other activities such as the presentation of the project ‘Study of Aragonese Mudejar art, the legacy of Professor Gonzalo M. Borrás Gualis’, an initiative that aims to expand knowledge about Mudejar heritage, promote the dissemination of interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary studies on this subject and broaden knowledge about this art. In this great project, directed and coordinated by Victoria Trasobares, works a team that brings together several prestigious institutions, including the Ministry of Culture and Sport, the Polytechnic of Turin, the Polytechnic of Milan and the University of Zaragoza.

2022 will also see the culmination of the ‘Circular desde la escuela rural, el pueblo como espacio de aprendizaje’ (Rural school in motion, the village as a learning space) project, an initiative that brings together heritage, education and innovation to develop educational materials that allow schoolchildren to learn about the Mudejar identity of their villages. The project will involve the collaboration of at least 14 rural schools and will incorporate professionals based in the villages of Territorio Mudéjar and from the Challenge programme, the ‘rural Erasmus’ promoted by the Council of Zaragoza, the University of Zaragoza and the DPZ Chair on Depopulation and Creativity.

Other planned activities include the travelling exhibition, ‘Mudejar, the intelligence of beauty. 20th World Heritage Anniversary’, which will continue touring the 37 partner towns of Territorio Mudéjar and which has been made possible thanks to the collaboration of Adri Calatayud-Aranda and the Leader grants from the Aragon Rural Development Programme 2014-2020; and the consolidation of the Territorio Mudéjar Routes and the Projects on Route: each month in 2022 an activity will be programmed for each project, promoting knowledge of the heritage and the local professionals who work on them.

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