The first students in the Challenge Program, which is funded by the DPZ and organized by the University of Zaragoza, are now at Territorio Mudéjar, learning and implementing applied cultural heritage management models. This is the third edition of this initiative, which enables university students to do internships in towns in the province of Zaragoza in order to encourage young people with good ideas come to – and stay – in rural settings.
“By showing students how we work with the heritage in these towns, we pave the way for them to choose how they want to focus their careers in the future, and we hope that this future is closely related to our region,” explains Victoria Trasobares, director of Territorio Mudéjar.
The group of Art History students participating in the Challenge Program –María Foradada, María Domínguez, Elena López and Sarai Salvo- have been living in Tobed, the town where the entity’s offices are located, since early August, learning about the working system there. They are joined by Eugenia Gallego, María Irazabal and Derry Holgado, working remotely.
The program’s first phase consists in an introduction to the entity and its working methods, familiarizing the students with the networking system and the partners involved: city councils, culture officials and individuals in charge of cultural and heritage dissemination programs, combining classroom learning with fieldwork. In addition, the students are being trained in the cultural heritage management project methodology by professionals in diverse disciplines such as project design and assessment, awareness of the applied management models implemented in our region, and in the fields of project dissemination management and communication.
The Challenge Program – now in its third edition – is aligned with Territorio Mudéjar’s strategic aim of fostering for-credit and training internships and professionalizing job profiles linked to heritage in order to boost employment in rural settings, attract professionals and develop projects that entail conservation of our heritage and investments in our towns as a distinguishing feature.
How is Territorio Mudéjar unique? It is a part of the rural setting, working with a network of 34 municipalities and numerous cross-disciplinary professionals, bolstered by the international renown afforded through the declaration of three monuments pertaining to the member towns as UNESCO World Heritage sites. Additionally, it is committed to professionalism, scientific rigor, innovation and sustainability, while also ensuring that the inhabitants of the towns are inextricably involved in the projects.
Territorio Mudéjar has now been working for two years, guided by Mudejar heritage in the broadest sense, and we are tremendously grateful to everyone who makes it possible for us to continue building this collaborative network. We now form a community of 34 towns with their active inhabitants and a multi-disciplinary team of researchers, partners and students. Together we strive to make Mudejar heritage a driver of development for the towns and also an emblem of identity that helps uphold the population.
Over these two years, we have worked with scientific rigor to further the knowledge about Mudejar culture, we have acted as its spokesperson, and we have launched projects that contribute to the sustainable social and economic development of our network of towns.
Among the actions in our annual work plan, two initiatives stand out:
One, the Challenge Program, sponsored by the Provincial Government of Zaragoza through the Cátedra DPZ de Despoblación y Creatividad (Zaragoza Provincial Government Chair for Depopulation and Creativity), which enabled University of Zaragoza students to carry out internships in Territorio Mudéjar (four in 2019 and seven this year). The students in the 2019 edition wrapped up the program by putting what they had learned into practice with a tour of the towers in Ricla, Longares, Romanos, Terrer and Tauste. The participants in 2020, in turn, began in August with an introduction to the entity and its working methods, familiarizing them with the Territorio Mudéjar network and its main stakeholders, followed by training in diverse disciplines and fieldwork.
Two, the Gonzalo M. Borrás Gualis Fieldwork Grants, which make it possible to develop responsible, sustainable and innovative projects that have a direct impact on rural settings, foster their visibility and raise awareness about the area. In the spring, we completed the first edition with project presentations given by researchers. Now, we have just chosen the winning candidates in the second call for proposals, awarding five grants and one second prize in fields such as the recovery of construction materials like Mudejar plaster work, the conservation of traditional architecture, designing tours that combine agricultural cycles and Mudejar heritage, the creation of a Territorio Mudéjar podcast channel, a guide about historical carpentry in our towns and the study of new cultural management models for Mudejar civil architecture.
As part of our networking endeavors, through our collaboration with the ADRI groups, we continue working on the initiative called “Territorio Mudéjar circular desde la escuela” (Territorio Mudéjar, circular from schools), which aims to help the children in our towns learn to recognize and appreciate from a young age the heritage surrounding them, thus bolstering a sense of regional identity.
Furthermore, we are increasingly present at forums on heritage and innovation. In this regard, we participated in the 1st Annual ICOMOS Spain Symposium of Natural and Cultural Heritage, held in Madrid in November, where the latest research done in the field of monument preservation, restoration, documentation, awareness and dissemination was presented. Also in November, we attended the Meeting of Spanish World Heritage Managers, which gathered in Cordoba to discuss the topic of ‘World Heritage accessible to everyone’, organized by the Spanish Ministry of Culture and Sports.
In conjunction with other entities devoted to heritage management and rural development, in January we took part in the first meeting with local agents from the province of Zaragoza in the MOMAr Interreg Europe project –Models of Management for Singular Rural Heritage, an initiative led by the Provincial Government of Zaragoza for the purpose of designing new rural heritage management models that foster sustainable development and adapt to the specific features of each region. Along these lines, we also presented our working model at the MOMAr Interreg Europe meeting held in Corsica in March.
And in August we shared our innovative management of artistic and historical heritage in a rural setting at the CortonaOpen3Dworkshop , a specialized course in computer graphics and smart city design applied to cultural heritage, which was held in the Italian city of Cortona, in the province of Arezzo (Tuscany).
In terms of outreach and communication, the towns and heritage of Territorio Mudéjar were featured in the January issue of “World Heritage“ magazine, published by the UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
Moreover, the Mudejar architecture in our member towns can now be accessed at the click of a mouse by anyone, anywhere in the world, thanks to an initiative by the Provincial Government of Zaragoza in collaboration with Territorio Mudéjar, which made it possible to include these monuments in the “UNESCO World Heritage” collection on Google Arts and Culture. This multi-lingual platform has received more than 175 million visits and includes a mobile application that has been downloaded more than 30 million times, offering virtual tours of museums and heritage treasures around the world.
In addition, for yet another year, we participated in the course entitled Viaje al arte mudéjar (Journey into Mudejar art) in July, one of the special courses offered by University of Zaragoza, aimed at directly studying Mudejar art by taking in-depth tours of the most emblematic monuments in these areas.
In terms of special events, in December we set up a special schedule of activities to commemorate the 18th anniversary of the designation of Mudejar architecture of Aragon as UNESCO World Heritage. This included promoting visits to the towns, project activities and a live radio broadcast from Tobed.
In January, at FITUR 2020, the important tourism trade fair, we presented our proposal for developing Mudejar heritage management practices that foster responsible, sustainable tourism designed by those in the places where the heritage is located, always in conjunction with their inhabitants.
And on April 18, we joined in on the celebration of the International Day for Monuments and Sites with special videos.
During the year we also bolstered our presence in the media and in social media by creating our own content (videos, live broadcasts…) and new YouTube and LinkedIn channels. Our goal is to make our networks the benchmark space for information and knowledge about Mudejar, in the broadest sense, and to spotlight our member towns and the activities taking place there.
Territorio Mudéjar took part in the CortonaOpen3D workshop, a specialized course in computer graphics and smart city design applied to cultural heritage, which was held from August 1 to 10 in the Italian city of Cortona, in the province of Arezzo (Tuscany), to share its example of innovative management of artistic and historical heritage in a rural setting.
During this workshop, the participants work individually or as a group to develop an architectural design project or an art installation inserted into the context of the city of Cortona. To do this, they receive specialized training in different areas related to architecture.
In this regard, Victoria Trasobares, director of Territorio Mudéjar, gave a conference to explain the Territorio Mudéjar model “as a strategic example of heritage management: the project behind the projects”.
The lecture was streamed live from the town of Tobed and in it, Victoria Trasobares discussed how the Territorio Mudéjar network began and grew, outlined its activity program and, in line with the course contents, explained how a technological vision can guide the work of historical, artistic and cultural heritage management.
She also talked about the “Mudéjar Patrimonio Mundial 3D” (3D Mudejar World Heritage) project, a cross-disciplinary initiative led by Luis Agustín Hernández, architect and professor at the School of Engineering and Architecture of University of Zaragoza, aimed at revaluing Mudejar heritage. The project arose from the 2019 fieldwork grants and will continue in a major new cross-disciplinary, multi-university project between Spain and Italy. The University of Zaragoza (School of Engineering and Architecture, and the Art History department of the School of Humanities), the Polytechnic of Turin, Polytechnic of Milan and the University of Salerno will all take part.
In addition, the conference at CortonaOpen3D represented the first of numerous wide-ranging activities open to the students in the 2020 Challenge Program internships, an initiative funded by the Provincial Government of Zaragoza and managed by Universa, the job orientation and employment service of University of Zaragoza.
For yet another year, Territorio Mudéjar is participating in the course entitled “Viaje al arte mudéjar” (Journey into Mudejar art), which will take place on July 13, 14 and 15, 2020, as part of the special courses at University of Zaragoza, aimed at directly studying Mudejar art by taking in-depth tours of the most emblematic monuments in these areas. The course provides a thorough explanation of the geographic, historical, ethnographic and artistic framework of this genre, and represents a continuation of the journey that began seven years ago under the leadership of professor Gonzalo M. Borrás Gualis, a constant presence in our work.
The Mudejar architecture of Aragon was designated as UNESCO World Heritage in 1986 in the city of Teruel and in 2001 it was extended to the province of Zaragoza, with the city of Zaragoza, the Santa María collegiate church in Calatayud, the church of La Virgen in Tobed and the church of Santa Tecla in Cervera de la Cañada. “This course focuses on the conceptual hub around Calatayud, which features a web of rivers linked to the Jalón River, bolstering the concept of valley culture through learning on site. The course affords a complete understanding by learning on the ground and through the unique contribution of each individual place,” explains Victoria Trasobares. The director of Territorio Mudéjar added that monuments are just the tip of the iceberg in Mudejar culture, because it is the context of the towns and the valleys that provides room for comprehension. “In this course, we show that learning can have a scientific side, but it can also have a fun approach entailing a journey that is open to all audiences, with universal access, and this element has defined our courses ever since we first began in 2014,” she concludes.
Monday, July 13
9:30 AM. Tour of the chapel of La Virgen de Cabañas in La Almunia de Doña Godina. Lecture “El génesis del mudéjar” (The genesis of Mudejar).
10:15 AM. Tour of the tower and church of Santa María in Ricla. Lecture “El mudéjar en la Comarca de Valdejalón, Ricla” (Mudejar in the district of Valdejalón, Ricla).
12:00 PM. Tour of the church of Santa María in Tobed. Lecture “Mahoma Calahorri y el Santo Sepulcro” (Mahoma Calahorri and the Holy Sepulcher).
1:00 PM. Tour of Espacio Mudéjar-Mahoma Calahorri. “La Gestión del Patrimonio y el territorio” (Heritage management and the countryside).
2:00 PM. Tour of the church of San Miguel in Belmonte de Gracián. “Épocas y estética del mudéjar en la torre y el ábside de la torre de Belmonte de Gracián” (Mudejar periods and esthetics in the tower and tower apse in Belmonte de Gracián).
4:30 PM. Tour of the church of Santa María in Maluenda. “La personalidad del mudéjar de Maluenda” (The Mudejar personality of Maluenda).
5:30 PM. Tour of the church of Santas Justa y Rufina, Maluenda. “El binomio, arte mudéjar-pintura gótica” (The pairing of Mudejar art and Gothic painting).
6:30 PM. Tour of the church of San Martín de Tours in Morata de Jiloca. “Transformaciones de las iglesias fortaleza” (Transformations in fortified churches).
8:30 PM. Tour of the church of San Pedro de los Francos in Calatayud. “Espacios mudéjares” (Mudejar spaces).
Tuesday, July 14
9:30 AM. Tour of the castle in Mesones de Isuela. “Las techumbres mudéjares I” (Mudejar ceilings I).
11:00 AM. Tour of the castle of Papa Luna in Illueca. “Las techumbres mudéjares II” (Mudejar ceilings II).
12:00 PM. Tour of the church of San Juan Bautista in Illueca. “Pervivencias mudéjares en el siglo XVII” (Enduring Mudejar elements in the 17th century).
1:00 PM. Tour of the church of Santa Ana in Brea de Aragón. “La obra de Juan de Marca” (The work of Juan de Marca).
4:30 PM. Tour of the church of Nª Sª del Castillo, Aniñón. “Las iglesias fortaleza del Valle del Ribota I” (The fortified churches in the Ribota Valley I).
5:45 PM. Tour of the church of La Asunción or Santa Tecla. Cervera de la Cañada. “Las iglesias fortaleza del Valle del Ribota II” (The fortified churches in the Ribota Valley II).
7:15 PM. Tour of the church of San Félix, Torralba de Ribota. “Las iglesias fortaleza del Valle del Ribota III” (The fortified churches in the Ribota Valley III).
8:30 PM. Sanctuary of La Virgen de la Peña, Calatayud.
Wednesday, July 15
9:15 AM. Tour of the Luna family home, Daroca. “El mudéjar civil” (Civil Mudejar).
10:15 AM. Tour of the church of San Juan. “La fusión del mudéjar y el románico I” (The fusion of Mudejar and Romanesque I).
11:30 AM. Tour of the Santo Domingo de Silos church tower. “La fusión del mudéjar y el románico I” (The fusion of Mudejar and Romanesque I).
12:45 PM. Tour of the Santa María church tower in Ateca. “Las torres de ascendencia islámica I” (Towers of Islamic origin I).
1:45 PM. Tour of the Asunción church tower in Terrer. “Las torres de ascendencia islámica II” (Towers of Islamic origin II).
5:00 PM. Tour of the church of San Andrés in Calatayud. “El mudéjar después de la Guerra de los Pedros I” (Mudejar after the War of Two Peters I).
6:00 PM. Tour of the cloister of the Santa María collegiate church in Calatayud. “La figura y mecenazgo del Papa Luna” (The figure and patronage of Papa Luna).
The Mudejar architecture of the province of Zaragoza can be accessed at the click of a mouse by anyone, anywhere around the world, thanks to its inclusion in the “UNESCO World Heritage” collection on Google Arts and Culture, a multi-lingual platform that has received more than 175 million visits and a mobile application that has been downloaded more than 30 million times, which offers virtual tours of museums and heritage treasures around the world.
Thanks to the initiative of the Provincial Government of Zaragoza and Territorio Mudéjar’s collaboration, the platform has included the Mudejar architecture of Aragon in a special UNESCO project for the promotion and dissemination of World Heritage sites. Specifically, the platform displays the monuments designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites in 2001: the church of Santa Tecla in Cervera de la Cañada, the church of La Virgen in Tobed and the Santa María collegiate church in Calatayud, in Zaragoza province, and the Seo, the San Pablo tower and the Aljafería palace, in the city of Zaragoza. Mudejar sites in the province of Teruel, declared UNESCO World Heritage 15 years earlier, thus triggering the process of promotion and rediscovery of the Mudejar as the most authentic art form in Aragon, can also be seen.
The Mudejar art of Aragon has a strong regional component and cannot be understood through a single site. Its diversity and wealth is much more thoroughly explained when it is defined as “valley culture”, in which the valleys of Zaragoza are a highlight. To discover all its splendor, Google Arts and Culture has also included photographs of some monuments in Territorio Mudéjar that are not listed as World Heritage, such as the church in Torralba de Ribota, the San Andrés tower in Calatayud, the magnificent views of the city of Daroca and the church in Aniñón, just a few of the many wonderful examples found scattered throughout the valleys of Zaragoza. In addition, there are also images of the Seo in Zaragoza, the San Pablo tower and the Aljafería palace in the city of Zaragoza, as well as the El Salvador church tower in the city of Teruel. All of them offer a glimpse of the scope of Mudejar heritage as a cultural expression found nowhere else in the world.
The platform offers photographs, a video about the Mudejar identity of the towns in Zaragoza that share this rich heritage, and a photogrammetric model of some of the World Heritage churches. This model was created as a result of the work done in one of the Territorio Mudéjar fieldwork grants in 2019, representing a launching pad for many other projects in the field of 3D heritage. The owners of the more than 30 million mobile phones that have downloaded the Google Arts and Culture app have received a message containing a link to all of these contents.
Universality, uniqueness and authenticity
This initiative spotlights the Mudejar World Heritage brand internationally and provides a powerful tool for heritage outreach and for the towns in the province.
The Mudejar architecture of Aragon was declared World Heritage by UNESCO in 2001 for its “universality, uniqueness and authenticity”. Although Mudejar is usually described as Christian architecture built by Mudejars, Muslims who remained in the lands conquered by Christian rulers, this avant-garde movement from the medieval period is actually much more complex. This genre, which extends across several centuries and has a regional component entailing journeys across valleys, mountains and urban settings, has stamped each town with a unique personality that goes beyond mere monuments to encompass urban design, the division of land, the landscape and society, impacting the intangible heritage of the towns and their idiosyncrasy.
Link to Aragonese Mudejar architecture on Google Arts and Culture:
Territorio Mudéjar now has 34 member towns – it started with 22 in 2018 – that will benefit from an activity program in 2020 designed to support the management, research and dissemination of Mudejar heritage and to create a network of professionals and jobs linked to the management of these historical and artistic resources. The association of towns promoted by the Provincial Government of Zaragoza held its annual assembly online this year and ratified the inclusion of the towns of Mainar, featuring the slender Mudejar tower of the church of Santa Ana, Magallón, represented by the chapel of Nuestra Señora de la Huerta and the church of San Lorenzo, Villarreal de Huerva, with the San Miguel tower and the chapel of Nuestra Señora del Rosario, and Zuera, with the San Pedro church.
At the assembly, chaired by the mayor of Tobed, Juan Antonio Sánchez Quero, and attended by the mayors of the member towns, Victoria Trasobares, director of the entity, presented the activity program that is being carried out in 2020 and the adjustments made in response to the COVID-19 situation.
The plan will continue promoting knowledge applied to Mudejar culture thanks to the second call for proposals to the Gonzalo M. Borrás Gualis grants for projects and fieldwork, which will make it possible to implement up to six fieldwork projects and will help create a network of professionals linked to the towns, with the training and skills needed to ensure that projects are launched and that they remain feasible and are implemented in the future.
Territorio Mudéjar will continue progressing on projects aimed at designing job profiles related to the heritage in the towns in order to attract highly qualified professionals who can generate business ventures in Mudejar locations.
Work will also be done on educational innovation projects, such as the so-called “Circular Desde la Escuela Rural” (Circular from Rural Schools), to include contents related to Mudejar heritage in the curricula and to generate value in the schools to make teaching positions in these towns more attractive and, therefore, more stable.
In turn, Territorio Mudéjar will participate in calls for proposals and European projects that bring investments and foster development in the towns, such as the MOMAr Interreg project by the Provincial Government of Zaragoza and Cultural Heritage in Action, in which the entity was selected in the ‘peer learning visits’ category, generating learning visits among European entities with common goals.
Similarly, the members will continue to receive advice on developing projects and seeking funding, and the dissemination and communication of Mudejar culture will be strengthened through the creation of our own contents, workshops in the towns and activities in the media.