Home of Moorish artisans
Villafeliche, site of the Camarasa marquisate domains, is one of the best examples of a rural Muslim quarter, similar to Torrellas and Terrer, and a walk through its streets clearly reveals this Islamic tradition.
We know that the town had two neighborhoods, one for old Christians and the other for Mudejars first and for new Christians later, after the expulsion of the Moors. The town was developed with a main thoroughfare running through it, from which small streets and alleys branch off, creating a picturesque ensemble dotted with manor houses where there was once a mosque, ruins of which could still be found well into the 20th century.
Perched above the dwellings is a Muslim-origin fortress, which fell into the hands of the kingdom of Aragon in 1221 and currently dominates over the town’s skyline.
The Royal Gunpowder Factory
One striking feature within the town is the Baroque church of San Miguel, with a tower that reminds us of its Mudejar tradition: decorated with ceramic arista tiles and protruding brickwork, this tower is a testimony to how deeply rooted Mudejar patterns became in Aragonese society as a result of the late expulsion of the Moors (1610), thus prompting their architectural traditions to endure.
The Mudejar stamp is also seen in the trades in Villafeliche. On the one hand, it was well-known for its bricklayers, dating as far back as the 15th century, and there is evidence that it was the largest supplier of pots in the region. On the other, the town’s powder mills and the Real Fábrica de Pólvora (Royal Gunpowder Factory) represented one of the most significant businesses in the province of Zaragoza and in all of Aragon for more than four hundred years.
The factory is now permanently closed, but still comprises a pre-industrial landscape that is highly important to the local heritage, given its geographic size and the complexity of the manufacturing process, and its economic, social and strategic relevance can still be felt to this day. The origin of the powder mills in Villafeliche appears to date back to the Mudejar period, although they reached their peak in the 18th and 19th centuries: in 1764 there were 165 powder mills in operation and by 1800, there were some 180.
Also worth mentioning is the striking Way of the Cross, dotted with tiny mausoleum chapels.