Papa Luna Palace, Illueca
CURRENT PROTECTION STATUS: Asset of Cultural Interest (ACI)
TYPE OF ASSET: Property
ARCHITECTURAL STYLE: Mudejar
CONSTRUCTION DATE: Beginning in the 14th century, with subsequent alterations
In the 16th century, Pedro Martínez de Luna, the first count of Morata and viceroy of Aragon, ordered the transformation of the fortress, giving it a more palatial appearance. At that time, the arched passageway running around the entire upper perimeter and the main portal were created. It may have been inspired by the main façade of the Ducal Palace of Urbino (Italy), extolling the influence of the Italian Renaissance in Aragonese territory.
During the 17th century, remodeling work on the castle-palace continued, funded by Francisco Sanz de Cortés, the first marquis of Villaverde, who ordered the main entrance to be remodeled, the castle bailey to be expanded, the medieval courtyard to be covered over with a monumental staircase and the mausoleum in the private chapel to be decorated. In the 19th century the castle became the property of the counts of Morata, later falling into the hands of the counts of Argillo and, finally, the Bordiú Nava family.
The compound is constructed of masonry and brick, arranged in an elongated rectangular floor plan. It is distributed into three levels, with the main rooms on the first floor, the second floor housing various bedchambers and the third floor consisting of a passageway of double round arches running around the entire outer perimeter of the castle-palace.
The Sala Dorada, or Salón de Protocolo, is one of the oldest rooms in the castle-palace and currently serves as the central hub for the rest of the compound. This highly interesting room was built in the 14th century and gets its name, Sala Dorada, or Golden Room, from the gold-colored decoration that has been preserved on the alfarje ceiling structure here, which is entirely decorated with heraldic motifs of the Luna family and Mudejar decorative motifs. Moreover, the Mudejar frieze that runs around its entire perimeter, consisting of polychrome fretted plasterwork, and the high quality alfarje are also striking.
The room where Benedict XIII is thought to have been born is a small space featuring a plaster frieze with intertwined pointed arch motifs painted in red, white and blue tones and a wood alfarje ceiling.
The mausoleum itself was constructed in the 17th century, featuring the heraldic representation of the coat of arms of Benedict XIII in polychrome plasterwork in the pediment. Upon entering the castle-palace, there is a monumental staircase erected in the 17th century in the space that had held the open medieval courtyard up to that time, which leads to the rooms surrounding the courtyard. This imposing staircase was built in 1665 and features a passageway of round arches at the top, resting on simple columns with a base and capital, covered by a large dome on pendentives topped by a lantern. There is also Baroque plaster decoration.
In the Sala de la Corona de Aragón, a space constructed in the 17th century, the most striking feature is the wood frieze decorated with leaf, egg and die motifs and turned colonettes. Covering this room is a simple flat ceiling with clad wood beams and plaster fill. On the exterior of this immense prism-shaped volume with four cube-shaped turrets at the corners is the portal, located on the main façade: broken down into three levels, like the rest of the building, it is framed by two circular turrets. Both are made of masonry up to the level of the arched passageway and contain three blind arches each, topped by six openings around the perimeter of the upper section.
Projecting some two meters beyond these turrets, the entrance consists of a round arch flanked by double pilasters with Tuscan capitals holding up a decorative frieze of mascarons and a broken pediment of volutes, also framed by Tuscan order pilasters. Over the entrance there is a second volume that is more severe and austere than the first but uses the same compositional
scheme, and above that is the third volume containing an undecorated opening featuring an architrave with an overhang.
In the 16th century, Pedro Martínez de Luna, the first count of Morata and viceroy of Aragon, ordered the transformation of the fortress, giving it a more palatial appearance and adding to this magnificent structure an arched passageway running around the entire upper perimeter and a no less elegant main portal which, according to experts, was inspired by the main façade of the Ducal Palace of Urbino (Italy), highlighting the influence of the Italian Renaissance in the territory of Aragon.
In 1984-1985 and 1991-1996, the Government of Aragon and the Illueca city council sponsored several restoration projects with a total cost of 400,333 euros.
Projects and interventions
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In 1931 the building was declared a Historical and Artistic Monument under the Ministry of Public Instruction and Fine Arts Decree of June 3, 1931 published in the Madrid Gazette on June 4 1931.
In 2003, the Official Gazette of Aragon (BOA) dated January 29, 2003 published the Department of Culture and Tourism Order of December 16, 2002, whereby the original declaration of the Palace of the Luna Family, also known as the Palace of the Morata Family, in Illueca (Zaragoza) is supplemented pursuant to Transitional Provision One of Aragonese Cultural Heritage Act 3/1999, of March 10. This Papa Luna Castle and Palace is also included in the list of castles considered Assets of Cultural Interest in accordance with the terms of Additional Provision Two of Aragonese Cultural Heritage Act 3/1999, of March 10. This list was published in the Official Gazette of Aragon on, May 22, 2006.
The Official Gazette of Aragon (BOA) dated March 11, 2002 published the Department of Culture and Tourism Order of February 22, 2002, whereby the original declaration of the church as an Asset of Cultural Interest is supplemented pursuant to Transitional Provision One of Aragonese Cultural Heritage Act 3/1999, of March 10, defining the movable assets and the environment affected by the declaration.
ABAD RÍOS, F. Catálogo Monumental de España, Zaragoza, CSIC-Instituto Diego Velázquez, Madrid, 1979
VV.AA. Comarca del Aranda, Colección RUTASCAI por Aragón nº 25, Zaragoza, 2005.
VV.AA. Gran Enciclopedia Aragonesa (GEA) 2000, Vol. 11, El Periódico de Aragón-Prensa Diaria Aragonesa, Zaragoza, 2000.
VV.AA. Guía de Museos de Aragón, Prensa Diaria Aragonesa S.A., Zaragoza, 2004.
VV.AA. Tierra Mudéjar. El mudéjar Aragonés, Patrimonio Mundial, Heraldo de Aragón, D.L. 2002.
LÓPEZ ROJO, Pilar. La capilla del castillo del Papa Luna de Illueca se abre al público por primera vez. Heraldo de Aragón. 29/02/2012 p. 15.
MÉNDEZ DE JUAN, José Félix et al. (coord.). Aragón. Patrimonio cultural restaurado. 1984/2009: Bienes inmuebles. Zaragoza: Gobierno de Aragón, 2010.