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.

The role of civil society in the preservation of cultural heritage in rural settings, a debate

The ties between society and cultural heritage represent a potential factor for social cohesion, and this human dimension plays a key role in protecting heritage. This is one of baseline premises of the online seminar “La sociedad civil en la conservación del patrimonio cultural en el medio rural” (Civil society in the preservation of cultural heritage in rural settings) organized by the Spanish Ministry of Culture and Sport on October 26 and 27, in which Territorio Mudéjar took part.

The seminar entailed a collective reflection on the importance of cultural associations created by civil society for the preservation of heritage in rural settings. Courses of action and management instruments focusing on safeguarding cultural heritage in rural settings were outlined during the seminar. The participants also shared examples of good practices applied to regions and heritage sites with great cultural value, so as to generate a sense of belonging among the inhabitants through this attention and even help to create jobs and improve social and economic management.

The seminar was kicked off by Dolores Jiménez Blanco, director general of Fine Arts, and Ana Cabrera Lafuente, deputy director general of the IPC. Lectures were also given by Mikel Landa (ICOMOS), María Pía Timón and Elena Agromayor (IPCE), Sergio Pérez Martín (program for the recovery and educational use of abandoned villages in Granadilla, Extremadura), Manuel García Félix (FEMP Committee for Historical and Cultural Heritage), Francisco Mestre (Federación de los pueblos más bonitos de España, the federation of the most beautiful villages in Spain), Vicente Carvajal (Asociación Cluny Ibérica and Sociedad Económica de los Amigos del País, León), Araceli Pereda (Hispania Nostra), Antonio Berenguer (Campanero), María Concepción Benítez (heritage expert for the District of Sobrarbe and for Sobrarbe-Pirineos UNESCO Global Geopark), José Manuel Rodríguez Montañés (Asociación de Municipios del Camino de Santiago, the association of municipalities along the Way of St. James) and Aniceto Delgado Méndez (IAPH).

Furthermore, Territorio Mudéjar will also be participating in the online course “Guía para planes de conservación preventiva” (Guide to preventive conservation plans) by the IPCE (Cultural Heritage Institute of Spain), which proposes a framework for generating standardized procedures to which quality control rules can be applied.

Territorio Mudéjar will use this training to contribute to knowledge-building that can help our member towns identify and analyze cultural asset conservation issues in order to subsequently advise them on the implementation of procedures that address these issues.

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