San Martín de Tours, Morata de Jiloca



CATEGORY: Religious


The church of San Martín in Morata de Jiloca is located on the south side of a square, so that it can be viewed in its entirety. It can be classified as a Mudejar fortified church, typically featuring a single nave with chapels set between buttress towers and three chapels in the straight-sided east end, like the churches of Tobed and Torralba de Ribota.

The single nave is divided into two bays covered by a quadripartite rib vault and separated by three shorter bays with pointed barrel vaults supported by buttresses, two of which form buttress towers. The nave is 13.30 meters wide and the side chapels open onto the interior via pointed arches, with the central arch being larger than the side arches.

In addition, pilasters displaying decorative plant motifs and ending in elongated pinnacles with the same motifs are arranged between the arches. There are two round-arched openings in the sides of the presbytery, which are decorated with fretted plasterwork based on an eight-point star that is repeated so as to create radiating hexagons.

The interior is decorated with painted brick designs using a technique that imitates the shape of individual bricks. The transverse arches found inside this church also feature decoration that imitates the shape of ashlar stones.

The exterior of the church of San Martín features a striking main façade decorated with protruding brick and ceramic details. The left side covers what would have been the east end, first bay and second bay up to what would have been the original gable wall. The portal has a basket arch framed by embrasured pointed-arch archivolts resting on capitals. Particularly striking are the capitals, decorated with figures like the one on the right, in which a bearded bust of a male figure can be seen.
Two towers were erected on the west-facing façade, but only the foundations can be seen of the one to the north. The south tower has a rectangular footprint and the exterior is divided into two sections, the lower of which is decorated with a strip of angled bricks. The belfry has two openings on the wider sides and one on the narrower side. There are pointed arches over the openings. In the upper part of the nave there is protruding brick decoration featuring a strip of diamond shapes between two single strips of angled bricks. At the top there is a series of openings covered by narrowing courses of bricks. Finally, there is a pyramid-shaped spire also made of brick crowning the tower.

As part of the major remodeling done in the 16th century, the passageway of double round arches at the top was added, probably replacing the gallery typical of fortified churches, which would have extended above the side chapels and end wall to connect to the two buttress towers in the west end bay.


Restoration, 20th to 21st century

The interior of the church has a single nave with chapels set between the buttresses and three chapels built into the flat east end, which was rebuilt during the restoration undertaken in 1982 by the Directorate General of Architecture, following the design by Ramiro Moya.

The main aim of this restoration was to return the church to its original canonical orientation, recovering the original presbytery, part of which had been converted into a choir. The current appearance of the church is the result of this restoration, which rendered it perhaps too “new” by reconstructing the parts that had been lost, including the painted decorative motifs and brick designs on all the surfaces except the vault over the south side, or Epistle side, chapel, traces of which remained intact there and in a few other parts of the church.

Based on these remnants, the other vaults, including the 16th-century vault over the presbytery, were painted as seen today.

During the final quarter of the 20th century, restoration work was done on the building overall and on the ceramic work of the façade.

One recent restoration project entailed recovering the structure of the original presbytery, which had been completely covered over, although the reorientation effected in the 16th century was left unchanged.

In 2000 and 2001, refurbishing work was done to treat some moisture issues. In 2007, the Romanist-style high altarpiece from the 16th century was restored, its color brought back to life through the work of restorer Enrique de las Casas.

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

The church of San Martín de Tours was declared a Historical and Artistic Monument under the Ministry of Public Instruction and Fine Arts Decree of June 3, 1931 published in the Gazette on June 4, 1931.

The Official Gazette of Aragon (BOA) dated January 8, 2003 published the Department of Culture and Tourism Order of November 28, 2002, whereby the original declaration of the church of San Martín de Tours in Morata de Jiloca (Zaragoza) is supplemented pursuant to Transitional Provision One of Aragonese Cultural Heritage Act 3/1999, of March 10.


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San Martín de Tours

Pl. Marco Monge, 5
50344 Morata de Jiloca

Visit Morata de Jiloca


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