El Piquete / Museo de las Momias, Quinto

Cerro de la Corona, s/n, 50770 Quinto, Zaragoza



CATEGORY: Religious


With its imposing size and location, the ancient church of La Asunción, or “El Piquete”, dominates the town of Quinto. This Mudejar structure was originally used for military defense purposes, with construction estimated to have begun in the early 15th century, attributed to Mahoma Rami, master bricklayer for Benedict XIII, or Papa Luna.

The building is now owned by the municipality and after more than three decades of restoration work, was reopened in 2017 as a social and cultural venue.

The history of its construction is rather complex. It was originally a Mudejar-style church with a single nave divided into three bays, featuring side chapels and a pentagonal apse plus two towers at the corners of the west end (there are references to a second tower, in addition to the one still standing, which may have stood on the Gospel side, although there are no architectural traces of its existence).

The original nave volume was increased in height and finished with a passageway of small round arches, typical of the Renaissance style in Aragon, in the 16th century, at which time some of the interior chapels were also remodeled.

The last two bays of the nave were added in the 17th century and the large chapel in the first bay, which opens to the Gospel side, is even later. The complex history of the building’s construction has led to hybrid forms and somewhat imbalanced exterior volumes that nonetheless render it highly interesting in terms of its uniqueness and the shapes of the decorative motifs and architectural features.

The entire exterior is made of exposed brick, and the original volume, spanning from the east end to the bell tower, can be clearly distinguished from the Baroque addition located at the west end. This latter is slightly higher and decorated in an austere fashion, its most striking feature being the enormous triangular pediment decorated with mutules crowning the gable of the west end. Running along the upper section of the original 15th century building is the Renaissance-era arched passageway resting on the former eaves over step pyramid-shaped corbels. The passageway arches running along the nave volume are double and rounded whereas those over the east end are slightly pointed.

The most striking features of the original structure are the openings, the door and the tower.

A complex window, composed of three small pointed arches separated by octagonal mullions and framed in a large molded arch of the same shape, opens up on each of the façades.

The portal consists of a straight recessed arch over which there is a pointed arch framed by a surround. Both display a series of concave and convex moldings forming archivolts that rest on engaged colonettes topped by small capitals with plant motifs in very poor condition. In the tympanum there are three canopies that must have once held now-lost sculptures and heraldic coats of arms with a diamond pattern and two four-legged animals. There are also draped coats of arms in the spandrels with two crosses and plant elements in the center.

The tower is located in the center of the south wall, where the west end of the church originally stood. It has a square footprint with four sections separated by friezes of sawtooth decorative motifs and cornices resting on step pyramid- shaped corbels. The brick decoration, with four- and eight-sided interlacing motifs, is striking, covering the entire panel of the second section and framing coupled pointed-arch windows surrounded by a larger pointed arch decorated with a brick surround in the third section (originally the belfry).

The final section was created when the tower was raised in height in the 16th century, and is also decorated with somewhat simpler Mudejar-style interlacing designs. Above this section stands a crenelated top followed by a cone-shaped spire. The interior structure consists of a cylindrical central buttress with a spiral staircase.

The church interior contains a single nave divided into four bays, of which the two at the west end, dating from the Baroque expansion, are shorter. Side chapels are built into all the bays, and display a wide variety of characteristics depending on their intended purpose and construction period.

The five-sided polygonal apse is covered by a ribbed vault with triple torus molding on the ribs, which join at a central boss. Pointed arch arcosolia are built into the central walls, located under the aforementioned windows, the central one of which has been filled in and features trilobed arches crowned by Gothic tracery and a small rose window. Shallow chapels are built into the straight sides, each of which is covered by differently designed rib vaults. During the 16th century remodeling, elegant portals were added, featuring surbased arches flanked by pilasters and crowned with friezes overflowing with decorative reliefs showing mythological figures and beasts and medallions containing portraits.

The four bays of the nave are covered by quadripartite rib vaults, the ribs of which are resting on pilasters joined by a molded entablature decorated with mutules, both resulting from the remodeling done in the 18th century. They all have side chapels.
Two shallow chapels opened off of the first bay of the nave. The one on the Epistle side still remains, covered by a rib vault. On the Gospel side, the Santa Ana chapel was created in the 18th century, a large, square space covered by a dome and finished with a small polygonal chevet reminiscent of the shape of the church’s main chapel. This space is austerely decorated with Baroque moldings and rocaille. Another small, shallow chapel opens off the next bay,

and its pointed barrel vault is decorated with 18th century paintings; opposite this, there is a small space covered by a quadripartite rib vault that provides access to the tower and the upper gallery that runs along the Mudejar part of the church (the first two bays of the nave and the straight sides of the east end).

The last two bays were added in the late 17th century and contain deeper side chapels. This expansion sought a sense of unity with the previous structure, covering the new bays with vaults that were identical to the existing ones, while introducing a new shoring system based on pilasters and a cornice at the springing point of the vaults; this system was also used in the rest of the nave. A high choir (now gone) was built at west end and large windows with surbased arches were created. The decoration on the walls consisted in sgraffito and painted brick designs on plaster, covering the ribs of the vaults. The bosses were decorated with now-lost coats of arms, only the ribbons surrounding them remaining.

The most interesting chapels from the Baroque addition are located in the next to last bay. They both have domes, one circular and the other ellipsoidal, although some architectural features, such as the lanterns, have been lost.

The interior gallery that runs along the entire front part of the church, level with the arched passageway, is also striking.

The floorplan of the church follows one of the most characteristic outlines in this style: a single nave with a polygonal apse and chapels between the buttresses, first used in the church of San Pablo in Zaragoza in the late 13th century.

The decorative patterns on the tower can be related to the towers in Longares, San Félix in Torralba de Ribota, San Miguel de los Navarros in Zaragoza and one of the chapels in the apse of the Seo in Zaragoza. The structural, formal and decorative similarities between the ancient parish church in Quinto and the aforementioned buildings, as well as other contemporary churches such as Santa Tecla in Cervera de la Cañada and the now-lost San Pedro Mártir in Calatayud, have led certain scholars to link this church to the school of the master bricklayer Mahoma Rami, an artist with ties to Papa Luna.

The interior of the former church of La Asunción, popularly known as “El Piquete”, now houses the Quinto Mummy Museum. It contains a permanent exhibition of fifteen mummified bodies from the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as funeral objects and religious rituals.

During the final stages of the restoration of El Piquete, a number of graves were discovered inside the church containing bodies that had been preserved naturally in perfect condition. The finding became quite popular across the country, referred to as “the Mummies of Quinto”.

Following several years of research, documentation and preventive conservation, the Quinto City Council opened a museum in 2018 to display this collection of mummified human remains from the 18th and 19th centuries, along with funeral and religious objects uncovered over the course of three archeological excavation campaigns.

This museum is the first exhibition space of its kind in Spain, not only displaying the fifteen bodies in perfectly preserved condition, but also exhibiting them in the same location where they were buried. All of this affords visitors an unprecedented, unique experience that confronts them with life and death in the incomparable setting of El Piquete.


Restoration, 20th to 21st century

In 1982 it was declared an artistic historical monument. Starting in 1983, different phases of action would begin. The first of them were works related to the structural restoration of the building, the tower, spire and roofs.

In 1996 the City Council of Quinto, together with the Zaragoza Provincial Council, began work on the facades, concluding in 2003. After the exterior restoration work, they would focus on the interior of the building.

Projects and interventions

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

The downloadable file shows the current status of review proceedings in progress, making it possible to gradually update the knowledge about each monumental building.


Declaration, 21st century


BORRÁS GUALIS, Gonzalo. Arte mudéjar aragonés. Zaragoza: CAZAR, 1985.

CHIRIBAY CALVO, Rafael. La serie «Reparación de Templos» del Archivo Diocesano de Zaragoza (2a parte). Aragonia Sacra. 1997 , no XII, p. 207-241.

GALIAY SARAÑANA, José. El lazo, motivo ornamental destacado en el estilo mudéjar: su trazado simplicista. Edición facsímil. Zaragoza: Institución Fernando el Católico, 1995.
LACARRA DUCAY, María del Carmen. El mecenazgo artístico de don Francisco Clemente Pérez (Francesc Climent Çapera), prior en la Colegiata de Santa María de Daroca (1394- 1404) y arzobispo de Zaragoza (1415-1419) y (1429-1430). En SIMÓ CASTILLO, Joan Baptista. (coord.). El pontificado de Benedicto XIII después del Concilio de Constanza.

Asociación Amics del Papa Luna, 2018.p. 53-70.

PEÑA GONZALVO, Javier. El Piquete de Quinto. Aragón Turístico y Monumental. 2018 , no 385, p. 4-8.

PEÑA GONZALVO, Javier. Mahoma Ramí, arquitecto de Benedicto XIII. En Jornadas de Estudio VI Centenario del Papa Luna (1994. Calatayud-Illueca). Centro de Estudios Bilbilitanos, 1997.p. 299-315.

PUYOL IBORT, Marta. Inventario de patrimonio arquitectónico de la Ribera Baja del Ebro. Inventario inédito, Comarca Ribera Baja, 2006.

PÉREZ BERIAIN, E. Luz verde al futuro museo de momias de Quinto, que podría abrir en seis meses. Heraldo de Aragón [En línea]. 13/07/2017 p. 16.

. PÉREZ BERIAIN, E. Quinto reabre por fin el Piquete tras 34 años en obras. Heraldo de Aragón [En línea]. 11/11/2017 p. 18 .

PÉREZ FERNÁNDEZ, Esther P; Río Bonafonte, Ma Romualda del. Trasobares Ruiz, Victoria E. Arte mudéjar en la Ribera Baja del Ebro [En línea]. En BES GRACIA, Pilar; BLASCO ZUMETA, Javier. (coord.). Comarca de Ribera Baja del Ebro. Gobierno de Aragón, 2005.p. 185-194.



El Piquete / Museo de las Momias

Cerro de la Corona, s/n
50770 Quinto (Zaragoza)

Visit Quinto

City Hall: 976 177 011 wwww.quinto.es WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW MORE? www.turismodezaragoza.es

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