Church of San Miguel Arcángel, Villarreal de Huerva
TYPE OF ASSET: Property
ARCHITECTURAL STYLE: Mudejar
CONSTRUCTION DATE: 16th century
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.
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.
Projects and interventions
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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.
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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