At the heart of the Grío River valley, between the Vicor and Algairén mountains, Tobed has become the gateway to Mudejar architecture, not just because of its imposing church devoted to the Virgin, one of the most authentic Mudejar monuments in Aragon, declared UNESCO world heritage in 2001, but also because the town has made this unique style a regional project for the future that encompasses history, art, education, landscape, traditions and individuals, harnessing these resources to generate identity and wealth.
One example is the creation of Espacio Mudéjar Mahoma Calahorrí, a museum of Mudejar history set up in the canon’s palace, which depicts the Mudejar art of Aragon and the social and cultural context in which it developed.
The town is also unique due to the persistence of several traditions linked to trades with Islamic roots here, such as pottery and ceramic handicrafts: part of the Obradores neighborhood, where some 50 tradesmen once worked in communal spaces, has been restored, including some of the vats and kilns.
The paradigm of the Mudejar fortified church:
UNESCO World Heritage
The church of La Virgen in Tobed is an architectural gem of Mudejar art. It is an archetypical fortified church on which construction began in 1356 under the influence of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher with the patronage of Pedro IV of Aragon, the monarchs of Castile, the archbishop of Zaragoza, Lope Fernández de Luna and Pope Benedict XIII; the best Mudejar master craftsmen of the time were also involved: Mahoma Calahorri and Mahoma Rami.
The power of its compact exterior volume marked by turret-buttresses and its imposing main façade abundantly decorated in tracery and two-colored glazed ceramic contrast with the delicateness and elegance of the magnificent interior featuring painted brickwork decoration on the walls and gypsum window openings with sculpted and fretted plasterwork.
This temple thus represents the concept of a pure Mudejar space, constructed with varying degrees of light. Intimate, evocative spaces in which the nuanced light brings the beautifully decorated walls to life. The interior would be incomplete without the carved polychrome wood alfarje (ceiling structure) that currently supports the choir at the west end of the nave, placing the Baroque organ in the spotlight.
The influence of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher on Tobed can be seen today throughout the town, which is striking for its simplicity and “pueblo blanco” image, while also featuring important buildings from the modern era, such as the Lonja, or market, the San Pedro parish church and the Baroque canon’s palace, also known as La Encomienda.
The town also boasts other interesting features such as the Islamic castle tower and the San Valentín chapel on the crest of the Algairén Mountain.