Church of San Miguel Arcángel, Villarreal de Huerva



CATEGORY: Religious


The only remaining trace of the old church is the Mudejar tower. There is virtually no information about the earlier temple from the 14th century, which was replaced by a new Baroque construction in the 17th century. The current appearance of the building is quite different from the original construction given that, when the temple was rebuilt in the 17th century, the tower height was increased by adding another section. In addition, what was likely the altar table in the original church was recently discovered in the vicinity of the building and can now be seen in the entrance atrium.

Therefore, this is an example of the wealth of Mudejar heritage that Aragon has to offer, as proven by the fact that this tower has been protected since 2002 in accordance with the Order dated July 12, under which the Department of Culture and Tourism of the Government of Aragon declared the bell tower of the church of San Miguel Arcángel in Villarreal de Huerva a Listed Asset of Aragonese Cultural Heritage. Among the types of towers to be found in Mudejar architecture, the tower in Villarreal belongs to those that display Islamic origin decoration but do not have an Islamic structure, i.e. the structure of a minaret.

These towers are arranged in the manner of noble towers in castles, where the interiors house rooms with brick vaults, which prevent their destruction and also make it more difficult to gain access than in minaret-style towers, in which the floor structures were made of wood. These characteristics are closely linked to the defensive nature of these towers, which is evident in the case of Villarreal because, as mentioned before, the church was part of a walled compound with a military role. For a long time, the tower of Villarreal received little attention in the study of the history of Mudejar art. Its minimal decoration and austerity, as well as the volume added during the church’s reconstruction in the 17th century, have contributed to this neglect. Moreover, the tower was also eclipsed by the voluminous size of the new Baroque church.

The tower is built entirely of brick and is located at the west end of the church, to the south – or Epistle – side. It has a square floor plan and is divided into rooms on several levels, except in the first section, which is solid. Above this first level, there is a room that can be accessed from the church choir at a height of some six meters, covered by a ribbed vault. This space has smooth exterior façades, altered only by the presence of three narrow arrow slits.

The next room is covered by a domical vault and can be entered by means of a steep, narrow L-shaped stairway within the walls with high, uncomfortable steps. It is embedded in the east wall forming a small stairwell covered with small brick vaults consisting of narrowing courses of bricks. This second room has two windows separated by more than one meter on each side, except for the north side, where access to the stairway is located, which only has one window. This must have been the original belfry, which explains the presence of the openings and the highly decorated exterior.
The windows have round arches and a line of angled brick running underneath them. The openings are flanked by small single strips of angled brick between two double strips or staggered strips above and below. Between the windows, the single line of angled brick is replaced by simple brick diamond shapes using a sardinel bond with the double strips once again appearing above and below. Above these openings there is a row of projecting brick corbels forming an impost, molding which seems to indicate where the original tower ended and may have been topped with a balcony and lantern, emphasizing the defensive aim suggested by the tower’s structure.

Finally, above the domical vault over the second-floor room, there is now a rough brick pyramid that supports a barrel vault, which acts as the foundation for the added belfry section. On the outside, a large smooth panel acts as the foundation for the final section, which is octagonal in shape, decorated at the top in a manner reminiscent of the Mudejar style, seemingly a more recent addition.

Thus, it is clear that the tower in Villarreal boasts some of the most typical decorative features of the Aragonese Mudejar style such as angled brick, or sawtooth, patterns. Geometric motifs like diamond shapes are also elements conducive to bringing out the most expressive qualities of brick. Furthermore, the church in Villarreal also features the oldest system for supporting overhanging elements in brick, using bricks arranged in a heading bond fashion with the courses narrowing and coming together as they reach the top. This system was used on façades to separate different sections while serving as corbels for the eaves. This system of narrowing courses of brick was also used in the vaults above the stairwells.


Restoration, 20th to 21st century

Projects and interventions

Projects and interventions, and the driving forces behind them, define the history of monumental buildings and how they are perceived.


Declaration, 21st century


Alvar, J.: Etnografía de Aragón, Guara, 1986.

Beltrán, J.: Tradiciones y leyendas de Daroca, Zaragoza, 1929. 

Blánquez Herrero, C.: El agua y Aragón, Prensa Diaria Aragonesa S.A., El Periódico de Aragón, Grupo Z.

Borras Gualis, G.M.: Arte Mudéjar aragonés, Guara, 1987.

Corral Lafuente, J.L., La Comunidad de Aldeas de Daroca en los siglos XIII y XIV: orígenes y proceso de consolidación, Institución Fernando el Católico, 1987.

Diarte Lorente, P.: La Comunidad de Daroca: Plenitud y crisis (1500-1837), Daroca, Centro de Estudios Darocenses.

Latas Fuertes, J., Valero Valenzuela M.E.: Villarreal de Huerva. Apuntes sobre su historia y patrimonio histórico-artístico, Diputación de Zaragoza, 2011.

Mañas Ballestín, F. (coord..): Comarca Campo de Daroca, Gobierno de Aragón.

Margalé Herrero, F., Margalé Herrero, A.: Los peirones de la Comarca de Jiloca y Campo de Daroca/ inventario, índices y fotografías, Centro de Estudios del Jiloca, Calamocha (Teruel), 2002.

Mateos Royo, J.A.: Auge y decadencia de un municipio aragonés: El Concejo de Daroca en los siglos XVI y XVII, Centro de Estudios Darocenses, Daroca, 1997.

Navascués Haba, M. (coord..): Alimentos y gastronomía en Aragón, Caja de Ahorros Inmaculada D.L., Zaragoza, 2006.

Ronco Lario, A.: Campo de Romanos, subcomarca con identidad propia, Mainar, Ayuntamiento de Mainar, 1990

Serrano Dolader, A.: Huellas y conjuros: por tierras zaragozanas de Daroca y Gallocanta, Institución Fernando el Católico, Zaragoza, 2014.

Ubieto Arteta, A.: Leyendas para una historia paralela de Aragón Medieval, Institución Fernando el Católico, Zaragoza, 1998.

Plan de zona de desarrollo rural de la Comarca Campo de Daroca. Informe de sostenibilidad ambiental, Gobierno de Aragón, enero de 2011

Los yacimientos celtibéricos, Turismo Comarca de Daroca.

Las neveras y la artesanía del hielo: La protección de un patrimonio etnográfico en Europa (Seminario, Fuendetodos, 1999), Institución Fernando el Católico, Zaragoza, 2001


Church of San Miguel Arcángel

50490 Villarreal de Huerva (Zaragoza)

Visit Villarreal de Huerva

City Hall: 976 807 041

Related Works