Project MOMAr: Heritage beyond tourism

At Territorio Mudéjar we strive to develop 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. We are convinced that preservation, research and dissemination of the Mudejar identity are key factors in the creation of tourism activities.

To consolidate this aim and share best practices, from today until November 13, we will be attending the second Interregional Event for Exchange of Experiences 2 (IEE 2), held in the province of Groningen, in the north of the Netherlands, entitled “Heritage, further than tourism: a sustainable future”.

Researcher Irene Ruiz Bazán (professor at the Polytechnic of Turin and Territorio Mudéjar fieldwork researcher) was in charge of moderating the good practice seminars in which several towns belonging to our network stood out in the presentation of unique projects.

The mayor of Torrellas, María Pilar Pérez, presented the Miau urban art project, which has been in place in the town since 2016.

From Alagón, as part of the Heritage and Education seminar, Julián Millán and Pablo Sebastián discussed the interesting work they are doing at the Ribera Alta del Ebro Workshop School.

And from Daroca, Irene Ruiz mentioned the work being done in Territorio Mudéjar, with contributions from researchers Ricardo Monreal and Marta López – 2020 Fieldwork grants – in the Mudejar civil architecture management project, which they are carrying out in accordance with the objectives of the new Fundación Campo de Daroca management body, reaching an important milestone by converting the Palacio de los Luna into a benchmark and a management model for private civil architecture.

On Friday, streaming from the Museo de Momias in Quinto, it will be time to look to the future in the conclusion sessions and also in the workshop on rural heritage management in the era of COVID-19, an issue that Territorio Mudéjar has thoroughly addressed so as to remain active while complying with all the safety measures and ensuring the safety of our visitors, but also, above all, that of the inhabitants of our towns.

Moreover, we have launched a multiplatform digital work solution in order to continue progressing with our projects online, aiming to work in an effective, innovative manner with historical and artistic resources, to the benefit of Mudejar heritage and our region.

Territorio Mudéjar has a strong presence in this forum, in which up to 12 people from our network are participating: students in the Challenge Program, members of city councils like those of Villarreal de Huerva and Maluenda, 2019 and 2020 fieldwork researchers, and more.

* Territorio Mudéjar is a member of MOMAr Interreg Europe (Models of Management for Singular Rural Heritage / Modelos de Gestión para el Patrimonio Rural Singular), which, under the leadership of the Provincial Government of Zaragoza and funded by the European Union, involves entities from six different countries.

Territorio Mudéjar as a role model of adapting one’s work in the era of the pandemic

Territorio Mudéjar outlined today, at the MOMAr Interregional Event, its strategy and the measures taken to continue its projects during the pandemic, in the hopes that our experience aids others in finding windows of opportunity at a time in which we must remain committed to sustainable heritage management and safe culture.

The director of Territorio Mudéjar, Victoria Trasobares, connected from the Museo de las Momias in Quinto to talk about the ways in which Territorio Mudéjar acted responsibly to protect both its network and the inhabitants of the member towns when COVID-19 broke out and the lockdowns began in March. First, the entity analyzed its action plan for 2020 and then arranged new ways of working with the towns, partners and professionals that are part of Territorio Mudéjar.

  • Daily tours of the region were replaced with virtual efforts thanks to the development of a platform that was already in progress and has proven to be highly efficient, overcoming the distances between the member towns. This has also prompted a move to develop a similar model for smart working in each of the towns.
  • Meetings also went online and we took part in national and international conversations to prepare transnational calls for proposals. Thus, the entity has constructed a network of professionals able to work remotely at the same pace and with the same goals.
  • In addition, Territorio Mudéjar has expanded its communication environments, linking our towns with international entities.
  • This has enabled them to continue using their heritage spaces, even while working remotely. And to continue focusing on creating new models of use for heritage spaces.
  • In the process, they have had to overcome difficulties, such as having to constantly reorganize their teamwork efforts and their project timelines.
  • Another complex issue was ensuring that the work done was always certain to be respectful of the inhabitants living in the historical and artistic heritage settings.
  • They also had to reorganize catering and projects.

As the director of Territorio Mudéjar, Victoria Trasobares, explained, “Our biggest success over these past months was our ability to naturally adapt to the unexpected situations, finding and taking advantage of the opportunities that arose along the way. For example, we have had a considerable presence in high impact projects like Google Arts and we were able to participate in high level events that, under normal circumstances, would have been hard for us to attend”.

In general, Territorio Mudéjar has not only continued its projects, but it even expects to see significant growth in 2021.

Territorio Mudéjar, an example of good practices at the seminar on cultural heritage as a sustainable resource in ‘empty Spain’

Territorio Mudéjar participates in the leading forums on heritage and innovation, including the online seminar entitled “El patrimonio cultural como recurso sostenible en la España vaciada” (Cultural heritage as a sustainable resource in empty Spain), sponsored by the Spanish Ministry of Culture and Sports. We not only attended, in this case, but also stood out as a role model of good practices.

At this meeting, coordinated by the Cultural Heritage Institute of Spain (IPCE) and held on October 5 and 6, the lecturers included full professors of the art history department at University of Zaragoza Ascensión Hernández Martínez and María Pilar Biel Ibáñez, who gave a conference entitled “La cultura y el patrimonio como recurso: la lucha de Aragón contra la despoblación” (Culture and heritage as a resource: Aragon’s fight against depopulation).

In line with the theme of the seminar, they discussed how this demographic challenge requires coming up with strategies to encourage people to stay in places with difficulties and studying measures that generate social benefits for the residents, attract visitors and possible new residents, and turn heritage into a driver of the economy, tourism and employment and, above all, to uphold a cultural identity.

In this regard, they explained how we, at Territorio Mudéjar, strive to consolidate a unified, collaborative management network for the use of historical and artistic resources linked to important Mudejar heritage in our towns. And also how we see these resources as a driving force in the development of the towns and as emblems of identity for upholding the communities existing in our region.

They further highlighted that our entity ensures that the projects directly affect the region through responsible and sustainable management of Mudejar cultural heritage.

Experts from the IPCE, the University of Seville’s Industrial Heritage Laboratory, the Santa María la Real and DeClausura Foundations, the Polytechnic University of Madrid School of Architecture, and Asociación Amigos de los Castillos, to name a few, also participated in the seminar. They discussed the issue of desertion of rural areas and the ensuing consequences for heritage, including the loss of traditional architecture and monuments, movable assets, habits and intangible customs.

They also assessed good practices such as reputable cultural routes, famous restoration projects, preserved monuments, foundations whose efforts have had excellent outcomes and models such as that of Territorio Mudéjar.

University of Zaragoza colloquium on the entrepreneurial adventure in rural settings

On October 15, Territorio Mudéjar took part in the discussion entitled: “Tu desafío: Conocer el mundo rural y sus posibilidades” (Your challenge: Discovering the rural world and its possibilities), organized by University of Zaragoza as part of its rural exchange program (Challenge Program) to talk about the entrepreneurial adventure.

Territorio Mudéjar is an active participant in this initiative, and has just started the second phase with its student internships. The director of Territorio Mudéjar, Victoria Trasobares, explained this, stressing that the program offers an opportunity for young people, who learn from it, and for the rural setting in which they develop their ideas.

Victoria Trasobares noted that Territorio Mudéjar makes use of its resources by generating a professional workplace; in other words, each area developed is professionalized. Since the entity works with historical and artistic heritage, there are obviously professionals with skills in this field.

Therefore, art history students are being trained in Territorio Mudéjar to construct learning experiences that take the context into account: Mudejar art, Aragonese art and a general context, because all genres are subject to some kind of influence.

Through this project, Territorio Mudéjar provides support in skills-building for art historians, so that they know how to search for information and how to use it. They also learn to discern the key components in ensuring that a project can be implemented with a likelihood of success.

In addition, this work helps further the project aimed at defining a specialized job profile for cultural heritage designated as UNESCO World Heritage located in rural settings. This Territorio Mudéjar project is funded by the Spanish Ministry of Culture and Sports, and by the Provincial Government of Zaragoza through its direct support for our entity.

Adrián Tambo from Ecotambo, Alicia Sáchez from #DulcesLocuras, Fran Saura Armelles, veterinarian, María Fernández Pérez Muro with the human resources recruiting and development department of Caja Rural de Aragón, Sandra Barceló, psychologist and independent educator specializing in social matters and mindfulness, and Yolanda Gimeno Cuenca, an environmental expert at Riegos del Alto Aragón, also took part in the University of Zaragoza course, sharing their experiences.

Meeting on depopulation: new job profiles for building a rural future

Territorio Mudéjar participated in the meeting on depopulation sponsored by Cadena SER in collaboration with the Provincial Government of Zaragoza on October 15 and 16 in Daroca and Paracuellos de Jiloca, reflecting on rural areas as a place for opportunities.

At the meeting, it was explained that towns need more than infrastructures to survive; specifically, intangible strategies are required, such as networking by public and private entities and a commitment to creativity and talent, ideas that form the foundations of Territorio Mudéjar.

Territorio Mudéjar sees the rural world as a place for opportunities at all levels, in which – as remarked during the meeting – disruptive elements that prompt a turning point are needed.

For Territorio Mudéjar, one key disruptive feature is professionalizing job profiles* linked to heritage, because this makes it possible to boost employment in rural settings, attract professionals and develop projects entailing investments.

For this reason, we are committed to finding new uses for heritage spaces and landscapes, such as technical tours, teaching specific subjects in these spaces, funding for internships, etc.

We further strengthen this course of action by attracting highly qualified professionals who generate diverse entrepreneurship projects that prompt them to settle in Mudejar locations. A clear example of this is our fieldwork grants for project development.

Furthermore, Territorio Mudéjar is seen as a role model of management and good practices in cooperation projects and transnational funding, with round tables, workshops, conferences and more.

In addition, Territorio Mudéjar engages in another of the leading lines of work highlighted at the Cadena SER meeting: education. Through projects such as ‘Territorio Mudéjar Circular desde la escuela’ (Territorio Mudéjar, Circular from schools), we strive to integrate heritage and its methods into curricula in order to raise awareness in school children about the identity of their towns and help them discover the professional options in their region. We do this through a cooperation project with local development groups, in which we are a partner.

*This Territorio Mudéjar project is funded by the Spanish Ministry of Culture and Sports, and by the Provincial Government of Zaragoza through its direct support for our entity.

5 fieldwork grants and one second prize awarded for the study, management of resources and development of projects in the member towns

Territorio Mudéjar, the network of 34 municipalities created by the Provincial Government of Zaragoza that aims to conserve and promote Mudejar art in the province, has awarded 5 fieldwork grants and one second prize for the study, development of projects and management of natural and heritage resources in its member towns.

This is the second round of grants awarded under the project bearing the name of Gonzalo M. Borrás Gualis, as a tribute to the distinguished professor and Mudejar scholar. Each award consists of EUR 6,000, to be used for the development of research projects that are responsible, sustainable and innovative, have a direct impact on rural settings, foster their visibility and raise awareness about the area.

This year’s proposals were particularly outstanding, consisting of cross-disciplinary research teams from diverse Spanish and Italian institutions, with guidance from renowned experts. Under the selected proposals, projects will be developed in fields such as the restoration 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.

The aim of these grants is to promote awareness about the rural setting through its Mudejar identity by creating innovative perspectives that have a positive impact on the towns and foster networking about the possibilities arising from the region’s resources and from collaborative, cross-disciplinary work. In addition, they specifically aim to enhance knowledge about the Mudejar as World Heritage and about the benefits it affords as an international brand recognized by the UNESCO.

The selected projects are categorized into five lines of research: new perspectives on Mudejar art, Territorio Mudéjar and cultural landscape, management of cultural heritage, communication and dissemination of Mudejar heritage and Mudejar heritage and its role in society as a key element for regional development.

The projects one by one

1-“Mudejar plaster work, symbol of identity, knowledge and opportunities for the future”.

Traditional plaster work plays a key role in Mudejar architecture, used in both monumental and vernacular architecture, but it is also largely unknown, given that it is often incorrectly identified and confused with lime-based materials. In the 2019 fieldwork grant, architect Pedro Bel comprehensively documented the traditional plaster manufacturing process in 16 municipalities and drew attention to the obstacles involved in restoring plaster structures due to the lack of compatible materials. During the 2020 fieldwork grant, he is seeking solutions to the limitations for conservation of traditional plaster work with some ambitious goals: better understanding the material, raising awareness about its role in traditional Aragonese architecture and developing plaster that can be manufactured today in order to preserve the legacy handed down. Thus, he intends to reactivate quarries and find materials that are compatible with Mudejar plaster for restoration and renovation purposes, in order to re-introduce it in contemporary architecture.

There is a strong team of researchers behind this project, from the universities of Zaragoza, Granada, Malaga and the Polytechnic University of Madrid, as well as top rate consultants such as Ramón Rubio Domene, head of the plaster work and tile workshop of the Alhambra Trust, and Antonio Almagro Gorbea, scholar from the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts.

2-“Vernacular architecture in Mudejar villages: tools and networking for adaptive re-use and compatible intervention”.

In addition to their important monuments in terms of history and art, the Territorio Mudéjar towns also have simpler architecture that is, however, of great social and ethnological value, integrated into the environment and reflecting the cultural identity of the area. Proper preservation and spotlighting of this traditional architecture may be a launch pad for economic regeneration based on the use of these heritage spaces by private individuals in order to make historical villages more attractive and competitive. In this regard, a balance must be sought between preservation of architectural heritage and socio-economic development.

Javier Gómez Patrocinio, who holds a PhD in architecture from the University of Valencia, studied construction techniques and the prevailing dynamics of intervention in Territorio Mudéjar during his 2019 fieldwork grant. Now, he is progressing with the project and aims to design and implement tools to raise awareness among local communities about the value of vernacular architecture and the importance of preserving it, in order to help developers make renovations of traditional buildings more compatible.

3-“Mudejar heritage and agricultural cycles: The poetry of the landscape. Designing and scheduling pilot experiences for tours in different seasons”.

Agricultural heritage, as a cultural asset to be understood in a manner similar to intangible heritage, is an identifying feature and a unique, irreplaceable element of the surrounding landscape. With this fieldwork grant, art historians Juan Ignacio Santos Rodríguez and Elvira del Pilar Domínguez Castro will assess the level of representativeness and the types of this heritage in existence, as well as defining them and assessing their capacity to generate new heritage resources linked to the agricultural cycles and to Mudejar heritage. The aim is to come up with a schedule of activities that combine agricultural heritage and Mudejar architecture, rooted precisely in this landscape, linked to the agricultural cycles.

Pilot test routes are also included for the purpose of demonstrating the undeniable and unique symbiosis that the earth, farming production and materials found in the surroundings have with Mudejar architecture and decoration, in addition to strengthening the emotional bond of the inhabitants to their land, farming industry and products.

4-“Muros Loqui. The walls speak. A podcast for giving the region a voice”.

This communication project consists in creating a podcast channel for Territorio Mudéjar, to encourage and complement visits to the monuments in our towns. Travelers can listen to these podcasts via mobile technology at any time of the day or week, thus meeting the needs of small-scale sustainable tourism.

The podcast content does not replace the experience of visiting the relevant monument, which should always be explained on site by a specialist, but rather complements the visit with proposed routes in the surrounding area, to encourage visits to other towns, and provides additional information about the town as a supplement to existing tours and suggested activities available in the area. The project will also help consolidate the idea of Mudejar culture beyond the monuments themselves. This proposal will be developed by a team made up of Gianluca Vita (Polytechnic of Milan), Irene Ruiz (Polytechnic of Turin and University of Zaragoza) and Marco Marcellini, expert in new technology.

5-“Mudejar wood. Guide to historical carpentry in the towns of Territorio Mudéjar”.

This fieldwork grant falls within the category of New perspectives on Mudejar art, aiming to bolster awareness about and appreciation for all forms of Mudejar art expressed in wood: ceilings (alfarje structures and ridge trusses), windows, doors, eaves, choirs, organ platforms, choir stalls, carillons, etc. It consists in creating a specialized online publication that contains an inventory of works providing descriptions, conditions and images. In addition, it will include texts written by specialists on Mudejar carpentry techniques and concepts, a full bibliography on the subject and special chapters devoted to the masterpieces of historical carpentry in Territorio Mudéjar.

Myriam Monterde, an expert in cultural management and museum studies, and José Manuel Herraiz, an audiovisual producer and scriptwriter specialized in the historical and cultural genre, are in charge of conducting this research.

6-Second prize: “New models of cultural management and funding for Mudejar monumental/historical civil architecture restoration projects in the province of Zaragoza”.

Territorio Mudéjar has awarded second prize to a research project about Mudejar civil architecture. Art historians Ricardo Monreal Lafuente and Marta López Veamonte are responsible for this initiative, which will further the research process and data input that began in 2019. In the initial project, they sought to obtain up-to-date, technologically advanced material on the civil architecture with Mudejar elements in Territorio Mudéjar and to document the management model for these buildings. In 2020, the current phase will consist in specific work on one of the most important civil buildings in our region, the Palacio de los Luna, in Daroca. This will entail defining a working model for this type of Mudejar architecture and analyzing new historical and artistic heritage management models to enable these buildings to be used, thus making them more sustainable and strengthening their role in society and inclusion in village life. Means of financing restoration projects for these buildings will also be addressed.

The deadline for submitting proposals for research stays, extended until June 29

Territorio Mudéjar has extended to Monday, June 29 the deadline for submission of proposals for the award of five fieldwork grants for the study and management of heritage and natural resources in its towns, as a result of the large number of queries received in the past few days. This is the second edition of these grants bearing the name of Gonzalo M. Borrás Gualis, as a tribute to the distinguished professor and Mudejar scholar who passed away last year. Each grant consists of EUR 6,000, and they are all to be used for the development of responsible, sustainable and innovative projects that have a direct impact on rural settings, foster their visibility and raise awareness about the area. Territorio Mudéjar is an initiative promoted by the Government of Zaragoza that brings together 34 municipalities and is aimed at preserving and promoting Mudejar art in the province.

Candidates must submit their ideas by June 29, 2020 at 12:00 midnight (mainland Spanish time). New and intermediate researchers, as well as professionals in the heritage management field with experience in innovative regional projects or papers that address the responsible and sustainable use of local resources are eligible to participate. It is also essential for the candidates to propose and justify living for a certain amount of time in one or more of the towns in Territorio Mudéjar. The proposed projects may be in their initial stages, in progress or in execution, and must provide proof that they have a direct impact on at least three member municipalities, as well an influence on the region as a whole.

Candidates may apply as individuals or as part of a research team, may be starting or partway through their research period or professional career, and they must provide proof of higher education credentials related to the subject matters addressed in the call for proposals and at least two years of research or professional activity, whether paid or not. However, professional experience may be substituted by Master’s degree level work in fields linked to cultural heritage.

Through this second call for proposals to the Gonzalo Borrás Gualis grants for projects and fieldwork, Territorio Mudéjar aims to promote awareness about the rural setting through its Mudejar identity by creating innovative perspectives that have a positive impact on the towns and to foster networking about the possibilities arising from the region’s resources and from collaborative, cross-disciplinary work. It also seeks to create dynamics of social participation in relation to heritage. In addition, it specifically aims to enhance knowledge about the Mudejar as World Heritage and about the benefits it affords as an international brand recognized by the UNESCO.

Five different lines of research

The first of the five fields that may be addressed in the proposals submitted is New perspectives on Mudejar art, which includes everything from updating data about this heritage in terms of monuments, urban issues, ethnography or linguistics to technical language applied to this style. Geolocation and cartography, as well as other aspects that make it possible to expand the scientific understanding of this art genre, are also included.

The second line of research is Territorio Mudéjar and cultural landscape. Here, the actions of people on heritage resources, the social and natural contexts, or the interactions and relationships between landscape and monuments are addressed.

Management of cultural heritage is the third field of action, encompassing new usage models for managing heritage for purposes other than tourism or recreation. It may also include studies on physical, economic and intellectual accessibility, as well as ideas for the future of heritage preservation and intervention.

New media discourses and knowledge or information for the general public may be addressed in proposals under the category of Communication and dissemination of Mudejar heritage.

Finally, under Mudejar heritage and its role in society as a key element for regional development, projects related to society’s participation in the spotlighting and collective construction of new ways of learning, inter-generational experiences, or emotional ties and roots as the basis for protecting and managing heritage shall be considered.

Rules for submitting proposals: https://www.territoriomudejar.es/estancias-de-investigacion-y-proyectos-2020/