Clock tower, Ateca

C. Cambra, 13, 50200 Ateca

CURRENT PROTECTION STATUS: Listed

TYPE OF ASSET: Property

CATEGORY: Religious

ARCHITECTURAL STYLE: Mudejar

CONSTRUCTION DATE: 1560
The tower was built in 1560 by the master builder Domingo and the Morisco Meçot to house the clock, probably influenced by the Torre Nueva clock tower in Zaragoza. The clock was designed by Johan Escalante in Zaragoza and installed in 1561. Following the Mudejar tradition, the tower consists of two sections plus an octagonal volume at the top.

The lower section was built of plaster-based mortar and its smooth façades are punctuated by a projecting brick cornice. The upper section also has a square plan, though smaller in size, and is made of brick, arranged on two levels, the lower one featuring the clock on one side, while the others have double blind round arches.

Finally, the drum and spire were erected, designed and built by the aforementioned masters, in addition to Meçot’s son, who was hired as an apprentice. In early 1561, the tile detail work was done, consisting of some 3400 tiles covering the spire, plus eight medallions and a stained glass window.

When the work was nearly finished, it was decided to replace the old clock, commissioning master clockmaker Johan Escalante, of Zaragoza, to design the new one. The bells were also designed and installed during this phase. In 1723, the masonry in the lower section had to be reinforced after one of the corners became detached, seriously endangering the integrity of the entire tower.

The tower has a square plan, and the rich ornamentation on the second section is quite striking. The transition from the masonry section to the brick section is achieved by means of a cornice of molded brick pieces.

In turn, the second section is divided into two levels. On one side of the lower level is a large modern clock with a white face installed in 2005 after the previous clock had been out of order for several years. The old clock machinery, along with its counterweights, has been preserved as a museum artifact, dating from 1854. When the 16th century clock ceased to operate and could not be repaired, the city council was forced to replace it, as the only public clock in the town.
It was agreed that the new clock should have features similar to the old one, with bells ringing every quarter hour and on the hour; the larger bell was reused, but the smaller one, which had been changed in 1801, was replaced. Francisco Echecoín was commissioned to build it and the contract contained a warranty period and a person tasked with maintenance during this period. In 1855, the job was given to Pedro Ibarreta, primary school teacher, who was also in charge of the upkeep of another clock that had been installed in the Capuchin convent. In exchange, he received a sum of 200 reals per year, and he and his son Vicente were exempt from military enlistment obligations.

On all the other sides of this level there are double round-arched openings with a blind oculus in the parapet. The protruding brick decorative work includes strips of angled brick in which a sawtooth pattern alternates with a staggered pattern. A strip of this latter type, in addition to a dentil molding, mark the transition to the upper level.

The upper level of this second section is divided vertically into three parts by means of impost moldings that reach halfway up the side of the openings and the springing line of the arches. The decorative work on this section is also made of protruding brick featuring recessed crisscrossing patterns at the bottom, which are combined with narrow strips of staggered angled bricks in the center and two strips of staggered angled bricks in the upper part; the first of these strips combines two rows of double sawtooth patterns with three rows of staggered patterns in the center, while the upper strip has a staggered pattern. The cornice at the top of this section is decorated with a strip of staggered angled brick work and a line of inverted pyramid-shaped corbels.

In addition, there are turrets with a square base and circular top on all four corners of the tower. In the center of each side of the drum there is a small oculus.

The spire is an 18th century addition that replaced the original spire covered in green tiles with the slate shingles seen today.

Projects and interventions

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

Declarations

Declaration, 21st century Under the Department of Culture and Tourism Order dated September 6, 2002, which was published in the Official Gazette of Aragon on September 30, 2002, the tower was declared a Listed Asset of Aragonese Cultural Heritage.

Bibliography

BLASCO SÁNCHEZ, JESÚS. Pasado y presente de la Muy Ilustre Villa de Ateca: historia, geografía, arqueología, Asociación para la Defensa del Patrimonio de Carenas ASPACAR, 2010. MILLÁN GIL, JULIÁN Y SANMIGUEL MATEO, AGUSTÍN (COORD.). Comarca de la Comunidad de Calatayud, Colección Territorio nº 20, Departamento de Presidencia y Relaciones Institucionales del Gobierno de Aragón, Zaragoza, 2005. 

VV.AA. Comunidad de Calatayud y El Monasterio de Piedra, Colección RutasCai por Aragón nº 12, Zaragoza, 2004.

Appendixes

Clock tower

C. Cambra, 13.
50200 Ateca (Zaragoza)

Visit Ateca

City Hall: 976 842 005
www.aytoateca.es
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www.turismodezaragoza.es

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