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Study of Aragonese Mudejar Art

The legacy of Gonzalo M. Borrás Gualis Territorio Mudéjar

The project

In the Study of Aragonese Mudejar Art we find, in a way, the starting point of what we are as a network in Territorio Mudéjar and the work that we developed with Professor Gonzalo M. Borrás Gualis in 2010, a space for common work and understanding of the Mudejar that, from a scientific point of view, could reach anyone with professional, intellectual or even recreational interest. A working place from which to promote learning at all levels with a view to recognising the profound Mudejar identity of our territory for the conscious conservation of the heritage of our villages as a fundamental part of their uniqueness and their future. The proposal, conceived and planned as a project since 2016, was designed as an open and collaborative work process that would provide continuity to a process of updating all the work in general and specifically on Mudejar heritage developed by Professor Borrás since the sixties of the twentieth century until the beginning of the project. What you read here represents the work carried out to date, we hope that you find it interesting and that you can be part of the project in one way or another. Victoria E. Trasobares Ruiz. Director and coordinator of the Study of Mudejar Art, the legacy of Professor Gonzalo M. Borrás Gualis.

The team

Following Professor Borrás, the project has inherited a clearly interdisciplinary vocation based on the work on the local territory (especially rural), understood from a global perspective, not only for its external and focused valuation, but also for the consolidation and reinforcement of local identities and the inhabitants who maintain the territory. For this reason, this project implies the effort to build a growing, interdisciplinary and international working team. A high-level European team that can lay the foundations for future European and international cooperation work. In this initial phase, the project, under the direction and coordination of Victoria E. Trasobares Ruiz, has relied on the work of a team that brings together three major European university centres such as the University of Zaragoza, the Italian Polytechnic Institutes of Turin, in the area of conservation and restoration, and of Milan, in the area of architecture, projects and representation. We would like to thank the emeritus professors Esteban Sarasa Sánchez and Mª Isabel Álvaro Zamora, the professor of art history Ascensión Hernández Martínez and the associate professors Juan Carlos Lozano, Mª Pilar Biel Ibáñez and Pedro Luis Hernando Sebastián, all of them from the University of Zaragoza, for their work. And at the European level, the enthusiasm for the project of the heritage specialists from Italian centres coordinated by the researcher and technical architect Irene Ruiz Bazán: The architects Chiara Ocelli, Riccardo Palma and Gianluca Vita, the first two from the Polytechnic of Turin and the second from the Polytechnic of Milan. Likewise, we cannot forget the laborious technical work of the art historian Derry Holgado Bernabeu, as project assistant, and of María Foradada Pina, as an intern student during part of this first phase. In this way, Territorio Mudéjar is making steady progress and consolidating its position as a management entity and a space for rural innovation from the perspective of World Heritage management and establishing strategies to have an impact on the extensive Mudéjar heritage of our territory.

The method

The work takes as its starting point the beginning of an editorial work developed in 2008 together with the company Prames Editorial, in which Professor Borrás began to revise the 1985 reference work providing an updated vision of Mudejar monumental heritage from a reflective viewpoint and based on exhaustive fieldwork, taking into account the whole process of evolution and perfection that Mudejar monuments underwent since 1986, when Mudejar architecture in Teruel was included in the UNESCO list and, subsequently, in 2001, this was extended to the whole Aragonese Mudejar through the declaration of six buildings in the towns of Zaragoza, Calatayud, Cervera de la Cañada and Tobed. In the planning of Professor Borrás, the project addressed the monographic study of each of the Aragonese Mudejar monuments, including the ten buildings declared World Heritage by UNESCO, a number of monuments up to the failed list of 157 proposed in the year 2000, as well as some more elements following the criterion that “the lists have the permanent condition of being expandable and revisable”. Each building must be treated in an appropriate manner in order to avoid making mistakes, giving each monument a treatment appropriate to its artistic interest so that the reader can clearly perceive the importance of each one. To this end, a detailed documentary review is being carried out, starting with Professor Borrás’ own doctoral thesis from 1971, unpublished and an essential study document not only for its textual content but also for the sources, the original photographs and the planimetric graphics produced by himself, which allows us to have a complete view of all the material available in the year 2021. A review of the bibliography, files and compilation of existing planimetric and photographic archives and meticulous fieldwork will allow us in various phases of work to confirm data and incorporate new materials such as aerial photography, 3D images based on point clouds and virtual views from photogrammetry and digital reconstruction. This work is totally focused on establishing bridges with the future of management with a highly innovative approach and linked to the new ways of connecting with people: research, conservation, education and entertainment.

The starting point, some topics to begin with...

The legacy of Professor Gonzalo M. Borrás Gualis. The working model of Territorio Mudéjar

Victoria E. Trasobares Ruiz.
Director of Territorio Mudéjar.

“The project that hosts this special work is establishing itself as a possible model of action. A project created from the rural reality that understands the management of Mudejar historical-artistic resources as a real and transversal tool for development in the local territories of Aragon, incorporating all the actors involved in its management and creating models of economic development, social and territorial sustainability endowed with identity in the rural area without copying or transferring models from other places”…

Mudejars and Mudejarism in Aragon: cohabitation, coexistence, benefits and resiliencies

Esteban Sarasa Sánchez.
Emeritus Professor at the University of Zaragoza.

“The Mudejar as a member of a confessional collective and Mudejar art as a reminder of its extinct presence in the future would therefore be the effect and result, first in advance and then retrospectively, of resilience or, as Pedro Luis Hernando writes, of survival, far beyond the disappearance of the population that formed part of the history of Spain for nine hundred years, from 711 to 1610 with the expulsion of the converted Mudejars or Moors”. …

The importance of ceramics in Aragonese Mudéjar architecture

María Isabel Álvaro Zamora.
Emeritus Professor at the University of Zaragoza.

“In Islamic art, architecture in itself is not Art, since what gives it artistic value is the ornamentation that covers it. This is the materialisation of its aesthetic conception, closely linked to its religious thought, which is why the decorative motifs are projected in a flat and superficial manner, in compositional rhythms of repetition and alternation, in superimposed planes or as hanging tapestries, achieving through the contrast of the different materials, their colours, brightness and changing reflections the dematerialization of the constructed reality”…

The Restoration of Aragonese Mudejar Architecture

Ascensión Hernández Martínez.
Professor of Art History. University of Zaragoza.

“The declaration of Aragonese Mudejar art as World Heritage two decades ago, in 2001, boosted its recovery and conservation, as well as its social dissemination. In this period there have been numerous interventions undertaken under the impulse of public administrations (especially regional and provincial), but the restoration of Mudejar architecture, which of course involves intervention in the interior of historic buildings where extraordinary pictorial decorations and impressive ceilings are preserved, is in fact a long process still not sufficiently known, since it has only been studied occasionally in some large buildings”…

The intervention and restoration record: a tool for current knowledge of Mudejar architectural heritage

Irene Ruiz Bazán, Chiara Lucia Maria Occelli and Riccardo Palma. Polytechnic University of Turin.
Gianluca Emilio Ennio Vita. Polytechnic University of Milan

“After more than fifty years of centralisation of the powers of monumental restoration between the General Directorate of Fine Arts and the General Directorate of Architecture, the current Spanish Historical Heritage Law of 1985 transferred the powers of heritage conservation to the Autonomous Communities. This transfer meant an enormous atomisation of the bodies in charge of its management, from Town Councils, Dioceses, through the Provincial Councils to the Government of Aragon or the Ministry of Culture when the projects have been carried out using the different cultural percentages destined for heritage conservation (1%, 1.5%) which the Historical Heritage Law itself establishes as an obligation in public works contracts and which have been numerous during the period under study, especially following the incorporation of Spain into the European Economic Community, later the European Union, in 1986…

Mudejar art and heritage in the 21st century

Professors Mª Pilar Biel Ibáñez, Ascensión Hernández Martínez and Juan Carlos Lozano López.
University of Zaragoza

“In recent years, in addition to this research activity, there has also been another activity to promote and disseminate the Mudejar as a cultural and heritage phenomenon, attached to the territory and linked to the development of the towns where it evolved, and in this task the association Territorio Mudéjar maintains close collaboration with the University of Zaragoza, through the Department of Art History and its University Master’s Degree in Cultural Heritage Management, through internships, the completion of master’s theses and a programme of grants…”

The buildings

  • All
  • Aniñón
  • Ateca
  • Belmonte de Gracián
  • Borja
  • Calatayud
  • Cervera de la Cañada
  • Daroca
  • Fuentes de Ebro
  • Illueca
  • La Almunia de Doña Godina
  • Longares
  • Magallón
  • Mainar
  • Maluenda
  • Mesones de Isuela
  • Morata de Jiloca
  • Quinto
  • Ricla
  • Romanos
  • San Mateo de Gállego
  • Saviñán
  • Tauste
  • Terrer
  • Teruel
  • Tobed
  • Torralba de Ribota
  • Torrellas
  • Villafeliche
  • Villar de los Navarros
  • Villarreal de Huerva
  • Zuera