Birthplace of Papa Luna
Famous for its footwear industry and traditionally linked to cloth-making in the past, Illueca is the birthplace of one of the most important figures in medieval Europe: Pedro Martínez de Luna, who was appointed as Pontiff in Avignon, taking the name Benedict XIII, but widely referred to as “Papa Luna”.
In this town, the capital of the Aranda district, the castle-palace of the Count of Argillo, traditionally known as the castle of Papa Luna, is perched on top of a rocky ridge. The building, one of the highlights along the castle route thanks to its impressive silhouette, a Mudejar palace with Renaissance influence, preserves in its interior interesting decorative elements in the Mudejar tradition such as plasterwork, tracery and valuable alfarjes (ceiling structures), the oldest of which are those of the Sala Dorada and the Sala de la Alcoba, dating to the 14th century and related to the figure of the master craftsman Mahoma Rami.
Illueca, like the other villages in the Aranda and Isuela River basins, had a large Mudejar population living alongside the Christian communities.
Classic and enduring Mudejar features
The castle-palace in Illueca bears close ties to the figure of Pedro de Luna and, following numerous construction periods that took place between the 14th and 17th centuries, what we see today is an imposing ensemble of brick and masonry built on a rectangular floor plan.
On the hillside at the foot of the castle are the oldest dwellings, easily distinguishable from the newer expansion areas by the Jewish-Muslim street layout featuring a maze of twisting streets dotted by charming corners nestled between the buildings, combining the whitewash walls of the humbler homes with the brick of nobler buildings like Casa Saldaña.
In addition to the assortment of civil architecture, the town also boasts some of the most important examples of Mudejar religious architecture in the region: the San Juan Bautista parish church, located just below the castle, which is striking not only for its 14th century Gothic-Renaissance structure but also for the wonderfully enduring Islamic tradition in the interior, with its magnificent Baroque plasterwork done using a cutting technique by master craftsman Juan de Marca in the late 17th century.