Santa Tecla, Cervera de la Cañada

Cuatro Esquinas. 50312 Cervera de la Cañada (Zaragoza)

CURRENT PROTECTION STATUS: Asset of Cultural Interest (ACI)


CATEGORY: Religious


CONSTRUCTION DATE: ca. 14th c., completed in 1426
The church of Santa Tecla in Cervera de la Cañada is perched above the town over the site of the ancient castle, of which there are still traces: an ashlar stone block in the presbytery and a square tower of rammed earth.

The military nature of the temple must be highlighted, as it bears numerous similarities to the ‘fortified churches’ of Tobed, Torralba de Ribota, Morata de Jiloca and La Peña de Calatayud. In addition, this is one of the buildings included within the scope of the Aragonese Mudejar World Heritage classification in 2001, which features 6 buildings in the province of Zaragoza.

While the exterior is rather austere, the inside offers surprising ornamentation in the form of painted brick designs typical of the Aragonese Mudejar style as well as black dragons decorating the ribbed vaults and large rose windows.

The church has a single nave with a polygonal presbytery that is offset from the longitudinal axis. The nave has three bays, the last of which, at the west end, features a raised choir over a polychrome wood alfarje ceiling structure resting on two slightly pointed arches supported by an octagonal column.

The three bays in the nave are covered by a quadripartite rib vault with diagonal arches and they are separated by transverse arches. Furthermore, the side chapels in the first two bays are deeper on the Epistle side than they are on the Gospel side.
The date and designer of the choir are known thanks to an inscription on the choir parapet, which reads:

“En nombre de: dios todo: poderoso seyor: fue acabada: esta iglesia: cuatro çietos: e vint seys: fueron: jurados: de aqueste: dito: ayo: don: pascual: verdejo: don joan: Aznar: regidores: don: anton: morant: don: domigel: morant: anton: cuynillo: mateu: cubero: percurador: migel: fraye: con dios”.

Below that, in one of the pendentives between the edge of the choir parapet and the Gospel wall of the church, another inscription also sculpted in plaster can be seen, which indicates the name of the master bricklayer: “obra y (=et) dificada: por: mahoma: rami: con dios”.

Thanks to this inscription, it is known that the work was done by Mahoma Rami, the favorite master bricklayer of Papa Luna, after the pope’s death.

The octagonal column holding up the choir is another significant feature. It is decorated with crockets, an ornamental motif typical of the master builder Mahoma Rami. Preceding the choir there is a parapet sculpted in plaster with decorative motifs that can be considered a forerunner for the plasterwork in the main hall of the palace of the Count of Argillo in Illueca. Because they can be dated so precisely, they represent important examples in the study of the evolution of decorative Mudejar plasterwork elements in the 15th and 16th centuries.


Restoration, 20th century

The church of Santa Tecla was restored in various phases, running from 1994 to 2001. The building was restored by Alfredo San Gil Lapuerta following the design of Miguel Ángel Bordejé. This restoration consisted in stabilizing the walls, rebuilding the entire wood roof and restoring the north gallery. In the second phase, the work focused on the interior, restoring the choir staircase and rearranging the baptismal font. The plasterwork and plinths were also restored and the painted decoration and altarpiece were retouched.

The south façade was remodeled by Fernando Chueca Goitia, who added the crenelated top and a window framed by a stone cornice in the section housing the stairway that leads to the choir and gallery. It has been restored to bring back some of the Mudejar motifs and to stabilize others, such as the original 15th century paintwork covering the entire nave.

Projects and interventions

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


20th to 21st century

The church of Santa Tecla in Cervera de la Cañada was declared an Asset of Cultural Interest under the Ministry of Culture Decree dated July 27, 1943, which was published the Official State Gazette of August 3, 1943.

The Official Gazette of Aragon (BOA) dated October 29, 2001 published the Department of Culture and Tourism Order of October 3, 2001, whereby the original declaration of the church of Santa Tecla in Cervera de la Cañada is supplemented pursuant to Transitional Provision One of Aragonese Cultural Heritage Act 3/1999, of March 10.
On December 14, 2001, UNESCO expanded its declaration of the Mudejar art of Aragon as World Heritage, declaring it an asset that is unique, universal and irreplaceable for Humanity. One of the assets listed in this declaration is the church of Santa Tecla, considered one of the best examples of the Mudejar art of Aragon.

The fortified church of La Asunción or Santa Tecla in Cervera de la Cañada was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, included in this list for its unique style, well-preserved condition and unmatched beauty.


ALCALÁ PRATS, ICÍAR, REVILLA HERNANDO, ANA MARÍA Y RODRIGO GARZA, BEATRIZ. Guía del arte mudéjar en Aragón, Centro de Estudios Mudéjares, Prames, 2005.

BORRÁS GUALIS, GONZALO M. Arte Mudéjar Aragonés, Caja de Ahorros de Zaragoza, Aragón y La Rioja, Zaragoza, 1985.

CABAÑAS BOYANO, A. Aragón, una tierra de castillos, Edit. Prensa Diaria Aragonesa S.A. (El Periódico de Aragón. Grupo Z), Zaragoza, 1999.

  • GALIAY, JOSÉ. Arte mudejar aragonés, Institución Fernándo el Católico, Zaragoza, 2002. GALINDO PÉREZ, SILVIA (COORD.). Aragón Patrimonio Cultural Restaurado. 1984/2009. Bienes muebles, Gobierno de Aragón, Zaragoza, 2010.
  • IÑIGUEZ ALMECH, FRANCISCO. Iglesia parroquial de Santa Tecla, de Cervera de la Cañada (Zaragoza), En BORRÁS GUALIS, Gonzalo. (ed.). Estudios de arte mudéjar aragonés. Institución Fernando el Católico, 2001.p. 39-59.
  • MÉNDEZ DE JUAN, JOSÉ FÉLIX, GALINDO PÉREZ, SILVIA Y LASHERAS RODRÍGUEZ, JAVIER. Aragón Patrimonio Cultural Restaurado. 1984/2009. Bienes inmuebles, Gobierno de Aragón, Zaragoza, 2010.
  • VV.AA. Tierra Mudéjar. El mudéjar Aragonés, Patrimonio Mundial, Heraldo de Aragón, D.L. 2002


Santa Tecla

Cuatro Esquinas. 50312 Cervera de la Cañada (Zaragoza)

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