Fieldwork 2020: Mudetrad, vernacular architecture itineraries in Mudejar villages

The project considers the importance of knowledge and valuation of the local traditional architecture in order to guarantee its protection. Its understanding and appreciation by users avoids its replacement by new buildings and encourages the development of activities aimed at its conservation. The projection of this architecture outside the municipality reinforces its appreciation by the local population and contributes to connecting territories with similar circumstances. For this preservation to take place in a compatible way, it is essential to offer owners alternative techniques to the use of generic industrial materials which, like hollow brick or cement, do not correspond to the nature and character of traditional buildings. In this sense, the work of local craftsmen who are familiar with traditional building techniques is key to bridging the gap between conservation theory and the day-to-day reality.

The work previously carried out in zone 1 has allowed for the extensive study of the construction techniques present in the local traditional architecture, the analysis of the intervention dynamics that affect it and the identification of craftsmen and construction professionals present in the area. The results have identified a number of needs and opportunities:

  • In general, there is a poor appreciation of traditional architecture and a general lack of knowledge of traditional building techniques. This often leads to the systematic elimination of historical elements and their replacement by industrialised solutions that are often hidden behind a stereotypical rustic finish.
  • At the start of projects, developers are often unaware of town planning regulations and current heritage legislation, as well as the architectural requirements established by the administration to obtain a certificate of occupancy in the case of housing or an opening licence in the case of businesses.
  • There are recurrent prejudices that prioritise replacement over repair and that claim that restoring a building is more expensive than renovating it. This belief has little basis in reality, as the higher unit cost of restoration work is usually compensated by a smaller volume of work.
Based on the research and diagnostic work carried out so far, this project aims to develop tools and implement a programme of training and awareness-raising actions to help address the identified needs. In doing so, it aims to meet the following general objectives:

  1. To contribute to the valuation of traditional architecture in the area of influence of Aragonese Mudejar art, fostering the perception of the construction techniques present as solvent and sustainable systems, and of the buildings constructed with them as a valuable cultural heritage that needs to be preserved and protected.
  2. To value the work of construction craftsmen and contribute to an increase in the demand for craft trades, in order to facilitate the survival of the local construction culture and encourage the use of traditional construction techniques in interventions in the vernacular heritage.
  3. To foster the conservation, restoration and compatible rehabilitation of traditional architecture and to promote the regeneration of the rural territory through its heritage, proposing alternative uses beyond the tourist sector and offering tools that allow for the development of interventions that are compatible and respectful of the local cultural identity.
Based on these general objectives, it is possible to propose a series of specific objectives that this work aims to achieve:

  1. To help promoters to improve the compatibility of interventions in traditional architecture, developing accessible and user-friendly tools and offering personalised technical advice.
  2. Encourage the supply and demand of traditional trades, making the virtues and the real cost of these techniques visible and contributing to the formation of a professional network of territorial scope. Vernacular architecture in the Mudejar villages in the south of Zaragoza: Tools and networks for adaptive reuse and compatible intervention.
  3. To improve local communities’ knowledge of the traditional architecture of the area and reduce the perception of its conservation as wasteful. This objective will be developed through direct and indirect actions of dissemination and social participation.
  4. To project the vernacular heritage of the region and generate connections with other territories, making this traditional architecture visible and sharing experiences and resources with regions facing similar problems.
LINE OF RESEARCH: Territorio Mudéjar and cultural landscape; cultural heritage management.

THE AUTHORS: F. Javier Gómez Patrocinio Laura Villacampa Crespo

Fieldwork 2020: Mudejar plaster, an element of identity, knowledge and future opportunities

The project Mudejar plaster, an element of identity, knowledge and future opportunities has had a wide-ranging journey with the aim of facilitating knowledge for a compatible intervention in the traditional architecture of Mudejar villages.

The objectives have been, on the one hand, to disseminate the true role of plaster in traditional Aragonese architecture, carrying out a study and quantification of the construction systems and techniques carried out with traditional plaster in the villages of the Mudejar territory, both in popular architecture and in monumental architecture. And secondly, to study the composition of a plaster that can be manufactured nowadays and that preserves the legacy received, allowing the reactivation of some of the quarries studied and fixing the population in the rural environment, for its reintroduction in contemporary architecture or for restoration and rehabilitation; including the analysis of its economic, social and sustainable viability, returning it to some of the uses it had in the past.

The municipalities that took part in this study were Aniñón, Borja, Calatayud, Daroca, Fuentes de Ebro, La Almunia de Doña Godina, Maluenda, Quinto de Ebro, Ricla, San Mateo de Gállego, Tauste, Terrer, Tobed, Villa de Jiloca, Villafeliche, Villamayor de Gállego and Zuera.

During the study of these municipalities, we have identified the construction typologies executed with traditional plaster in old and recent constructions,
locating major aspects that coincide between the municipalities in the versatility of the use of plaster, both in interior cladding, façade applications, exterior decorations, flooring and structural elements until the great change that construction underwent between 1950-1970 with the arrival of modern materials, relegating traditional materials to oblivion.

Mineralogical studies of Mudéjar plaster have revealed the presence of hydraulic phases in Mudéjar plaster (which was fired at very high temperatures), making these plasters much more resistant to stress than modern plasters, which are fired at very low temperatures.

With this contribution of knowledge about this traditional material, the importance of preserving the legacy and knowledge of making Mudejar plaster, a process that remained unchanged until the mid-20th century when the link of knowledge passed down and refined over many generations was broken.

LINE OF RESEARCH: New perspectives.


Project coordinator: Pedro Bel Anzué. Environmental Architecture.

Main researchers: Marta Monzón Chavarrías (University of Zaragoza), Kerstin Elert (University of Granada), José Manuel López Osorio (University of Malaga), David Sanz Arauz (Polytechnic University of Madrid).

Advisors linked to the project: Ramón Rubio Domene (Alhambra, Granada) and Antonio Almagro Gorbea (School of Arabian Studies-CSIC).

Fieldwork 2020: Mudejar heritage and agricultural calendar: landscape poetics. Design and programming of pilot experiences for carrying out visits during the seasons of the year.

The project Mudejar heritage and agricultural calendar aims to complement the current cultural programming in the territory through the design, creation and evaluation of events in which it takes on special importance. In this way, it allows not only direct contact with it for those who visit it, but also the interpretation of the agricultural landscape as an irreplaceable part of its identity. This also makes it possible to involve the local communities by highlighting the work on the land and the traditional agricultural product. With Aragonese Mudejar art as the common thread and the agricultural landscape and traditional agricultural activities as the thematic criterion for the interventions, the agricultural calendar is the backbone that allows the activities to be developed in an orderly manner and with a reasoned criterion.

In this first phase, the project has focused on diagnosing needs and interpreting the area of work with a methodology that includes participant observation to identify the linking possibilities and the spatial and temporal articulation between the agrarian and architectural heritage assets and the agrarian calendar. This has made it possible – conditioned by the pandemic that has restricted mobility and access to certain towns at specific times when it was sometimes imperative due to the agricultural calendar (flowering, harvesting, etc.) – to know and understand the possible variables of action depending on the areas worked on.

These areas, which are unique due to their differences in cultivation and the resulting landscape within the territory, have so far been determined in a remarkable way with regard to the valleys that make up Territorio Mudéjar by means of fieldwork trips and the elaboration of materials in situ in the Jalón
valley (Ricla, La Almunia de Doña Godina and Cabañas), the Ribota valley (Aniñón, Torralba de Ribota and Cervera de Cañada) and the Huerva valley (Villalba de Huerva, Aniñón, Torralba de Ribota and Cervera de Cañada), La Almunia de Doña Godina and Cabañas), the Ribota valley (Aniñón, Torralba de Ribota and Cervera de la Cañada) and the Huerva valley (Villar de los Navarros and Romanos). Finally, mention should be made of the Jalón-Jiloca valley with the towns of Maluenda, Morata de Jiloca and Villafeliche. Another of the analysed spaces, in this case from an exclusively documentary perspective as a way of partially resolving the shortcomings caused by the interruptions in the fieldwork mentioned above, was the Huerva Valley. In this way, the towns of Cosuenda and Longares were the main object of the bibliographic data collection.

On the basis of this work and the adjustment of future work, especially organised with a view to resolving possible mobility restrictions, the actions aimed at testing and evaluating the first en route projects planned, which are aimed at promoting public access, interpretation and enjoyment of the Mudejar cultural landscape, made up of values such as its architecture, the different areas of agricultural production and the seasonal processes inherent to human activity in them, will be derived from this work. Likewise, the dissemination through Territorio Mudéjar, aimed at a better understanding of the importance of the agricultural landscape as an asset and part of the community, has been rethought from the perspective of anticipation in order to achieve a greater presence in the networks than has been achieved so far due to the current socio-sanitary circumstances.

LINE OF RESEARCH: can be framed within the double line of research Territorio Mudéjar and cultural landscape and the management of cultural heritage.


  • Juan Ignacio Santos Rodríguez, coordinator of the project, has a PhD in Art
    History and is a specialist in cultural management.
  • Elvira del Pilar Domínguez Castro has a degree in Art History and is an
    independent cultural manager.

Fieldwork 2020: New models of cultural management and financing for restoration projects of Mudejar civil-monumental buildings in the province of Zaragoza

Taking as a starting point the previous research work of this team, Study of Mudejar civil architecture in the regions of Borja, Aranda, Calatayud and Daroca and its efficient management, this new research project, entitled New models of Cultural Management and Financing for restoration projects of Mudejar civilmonumental buildings in the province of Zaragoza, seeks to expand on what has already been studied and develop a preliminary project focused on the practical part.

The core of the work has focused on the palace-house of the Luna family of Daroca, a Mudejar civil building in which Don Pedro de Luna, better known as “Papa Luna”, lived. This building is now in disuse. This research seeks a functional solution for this building that justifies its restoration, respecting its original structure and distribution as much as possible, extending its use over time and allowing it to be a self-sufficient, self-financing and useful building.

After the work of study, research, fieldwork, various proposals and meetings with the Campo de Daroca Foundation (owner of most of the building), the Daroca Town Council and the architect-surveyor Javier Ibargüen, the proposal to convert this emblematic building into the new archive-library of the regional capital was accepted. With this decision, the objectives of conservation, utility and self-sufficiency are achieved. The original structure and layout would be maintained, as the available space was more than sufficient. Cultural goals would be promoted that would serve as an attraction for the region and, in addition, employment would be created, as cultural activities would be developed in this same centre.

In order to carry out this mission, a working methodology has been developed that addresses it in several phases:

  1. Study of the building and development of a master plan to check the needs of the building for its restoration and adaptation to the management project decided to be carried out on it. This work was done in collaboration with the architect Javier Ibargüen, and on the basis of the previous studies he had already carried out on the palace.
  2. A study of the possibilities that the building offered for its second life, trying to respect as much as possible its original structure and layout. The study was carried out in collaboration with the Campo de Daroca Foundation and the local town council. In order to make the best possible decision, the management of this use and the benefits that would be obtained through it were assessed.
  3. Development of the final draft project and calculation of the budget for the work, for which a search for different sources of funding would be sought.
  4. Finally, with the support that would back the project (public and/or private entities), workers would be hired to carry out the restoration work and the tasks required by the new function of the building.

The work objectives were always two: the study of the building and its architectural characteristics and the search for appropriate uses, linked to the historical-cultural interest, and its good management, always pointing out selfsufficiency and self-financing as the main aims, as well as its continued use over time, trying to respect the original structure and layout.

LINE OF RESEARCH: (3) Cultural heritage management.


  • Marta López Veamonte, art historian.
  • Ricardo Monreal Lafuente, art historian.

Fieldwork 2020: Walls Loqui. Walls speak. Podcast to give voice to the territory

The fieldwork grant Walls Loqui. Walls speak. Podcast to give voice to the territory has proposed the creation of a communication project of the Mudejar territory through a series of thematic podcasts that strengthen, encourage and complement the visit to the territory.

The starting hypothesis was that the combination of the unstoppable and undeniable use of mobile technologies with the current health situation meant that some towns were moving towards a more autonomous and spaced-out tourism, both in terms of physical distance and time, so a priori this methodology seemed to be the right one to be able to serve the traveller at any time of the day and, above all, any day of the week.

These podcasts are in no way intended to replace the experience of a guided tour in situ by a specialist, but given that these are generally limited to the main monuments, the aim is to complete it and enrich both the prior preparation and the subsequent experience, proposing a series of routes through the territory and additional information about the towns and possible activities to be carried out in them or in other nearby towns.

To this end, a first phase of research has been carried out, in collaboration with the internship students of the Challenge Programme, in which four possible central themes have been identified in order to structure the first podcasts, which have also served as a pilot for the project.

    1. The birth of the Mudejar
    2. The keys to the Mudejar
    3. Mestizo Land and borderland
    4. World Heritage
The idea has been to develop the podcast channel with these three objectives in mind:
  • As an enhancer of “derived” visits. In other words, through this medium,towns that receive fewer visitors can acquire greater visibility by offering themselves as a complement to visits to other towns that nowadays have a more developed tourist infrastructure.
  • As a complement to other visits already being carried out in the same town and the effectiveness of which has been proven. To be able to work along the lines of complementarity within the same town and increase the number of places visited and the time spent in the towns.
  • Proposing routes between nearby towns, thus creating a network between places with similar communication needs that can benefit synergistically.
In the trial and correction phase during its implementation, an active collaboration of the inhabitants of the territory was foreseen, but the current health situation has led to change part of this work to online formats, leaving some activities pending that will be carried out as soon as the situation allows it.

The main objective has been that this research work and its subsequent implementation, available both through the Territorio Mudéjar website and through different commercial channels, should serve not only to activate this specific initiative, but also to create guidelines that, based on the previous research, the pilot implementation and its start-up, testing, corrections, etc. (which are a fundamental phase of this stay), constitute a reference both in terms of content and at a technical level that can be used in the rest of the towns in the territory. The objective is to strengthen this communication system which, at the moment, seems to be a possible way of developing sustainable tourism with possibilities for the future.

In this sense, a technical guide has been produced that explains everything from how to convert audio files and add metadata to the podcasts to facilitate their location in the different repositories, through an analysis of the commercial platforms available on the market to the creation of guidelines for the style of the texts, duration and architecture of the contents, to allow for their adequate voice-over, dissemination and comprehension.

LINE OF RESEARCH: It corresponds to the lines of cultural heritage management, communication and dissemination.

  • Gianluca Vita, Polytechnic of Milan.
  • Irene Ruiz, Polytechnic of Turin and University of Zaragoza.
  • Marco Marcellini, expert in new technologies.

2021 Fieldwork: Educational Mudejar, the guide.

Educational Mudejar, the guide.

This fieldwork stay has focused on the creation of educational material for primary and secondary school students, in order to make interpretation of the Mudejar easier through a combination of illustrations and real images, as well as to help understand the value of this rich legacy. This teaching resource will be available on the Territorio Mudéjar website, will be accessible through all types of devices and will have an attractive, visual and dynamic presentation. The online publication will be complemented with routes based on maps and with games adapted to the students’ level and linked to the work carried out in the project “Circular desde la escuela rural”. This tool can be used both in the classroom context and at home.
The development of the online didactic guide that summarises the results of the fieldwork stay was carried out through the following phases:
Development of the script and documentation: “Educational Mudejar”.

  • Documentation, development of the idea, script, text writing, creativity with historical-artistic introductions.
  • Design and realisation of different resources and educational materials to adapt them to editorial production.
  • Structure and planning of illustrations as well as trips in order to elaborate the map and the route with photographs and illustrations.

Selection of towns in order to contextualise the educational guide, in the form of a map to explore the towns of Territorio Mudéjar.

  • Taking photographs to mix illustrations and real images in order to help the youngest students to better visualise the contents and understand them. In this sense, the blend of reality and illustration is a basic resource.
  • Photographs for the map and the route.
Illustrations: DAVID GUIRAO:

  • Illustrations and storyboard.
  • Digital retouching and adaptation of illustrations to the right size and format for the production.

Production and execution of the online publication:

  • Search and selection of still images. Includes photographic retouching of images and photomontages.
  • Design and layout of an interactive pdf with a map/plan including routes that are accessible for families and for educational purposes.
  • Motion graphics. Creation of motion graphics (maps, layered photographs, titles, texts).
The result can be consulted through the following button:
LINE OF RESEARCH: Communication and dissemination.

THE AUTHORS: Myriam Monterde, Elisa Plana, José Manuel Herráiz and David Guirao.

2021 Fieldwork: Preventive urbanism

Preventive urbanism: Guidelines and tools for the protection of
traditional architecture in Mudejar towns from the perspective of urban planning.

This fieldwork stay proposes an analysis and comparative study of the urban planning regulations governing architectural interventions in various towns of Territorio Mudéjar. It does so by providing an overview of the degree of protection of traditional architecture derived from planning, identifying areas for improvement and proposing a framework document that can be used by both private promoters and municipal technicians to improve the compatibility of interventions in traditional constructions. This project continues the research on vernacular architecture initiated in the previous stays.
The work carried out is based on the following general objectives:

  1. To promote the appreciation of traditional architecture within the sphere of influence of Aragonese Mudejar art, bolstering that its construction techniques are perceived as a valuable cultural heritage that needs to be preserved and protected.

  2. To foster the preservation, restoration and compatible renovation of traditional architecture, offering tools that are adapted to the specific casuistry of the sphere of influence of the Aragonese Mudejar.

  3. To boost coordination between municipal administrations and private initiative for the development of interventions which are agile and focused on preservation.

  4. To promote the regeneration of the rural setting through its heritage, proposing alternative uses beyond the tourist sector and offering tools that allow for the development of compatible and respectful interventions with local cultural identity.
Based on these general objectives, a number of specific objectives have been proposed:

  1. To analyse the state of urban planning and its influence on traditional architecture in the towns that make up Territorio Mudéjar.

  2. To create documentation that serves as a reference, in the form of guidelines and preservation objectives that can be used by the local councils in order to encourage and promote compatible intervention and preventive conservation of local traditional architecture.

  3. To boost social involvement with preventive conservation tools and their appropriation by the community by means of citizen participation actions.

  4. To raise awareness of the value of traditional architecture through dissemination activities that emphasise the irreplaceable nature of this architecture and the importance of its preservation.

  5. To encourage the supply and demand of traditional trades, making the virtues and the real cost of these techniques visible and contributing to the creation of a territorial professional network.
The stay ends with conclusions and guidelines for the compatible intervention in the traditional architecture of the area, which will be disseminated among the different interested towns.
LINES OF RESEARCH: New perspectives on Mudejar art; management of cultural heritage.

THE AUTHOR: Laura Villacampa Crespo

COLLABORATORS: F. Javier Gómez Patrocinio, Ignacio Pérez Bailón.

The first students in the 2020 Challenge Program reach Territorio Mudéjar

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.

2019 Fieldwork: Mudejar civil architecture, a study on new uses with a regional impact

The project entitled Mudejar civil architecture, a study on new uses is a cross-disciplinary initiative in which a data input process has been developed for two main purposes. On the one hand, in order to obtain up-to-date, technologically advanced material on civil architecture with Mudejar elements within Territorio Mudéjar. On the other, to set up phase 0 of a monument management project aimed at putting these buildings to use, thus contributing to their sustainability, their role in society and their inclusion in village life.

This research falls within one of Territorio Mudéjar’s lines of action, which is to design new uses for heritage spaces: technical tours, teaching specific subjects, internships or other types of local activities.

The research is designed as an analytical study based on the management of Mudejar heritage in order to create a realistic action plan that will become a driving force for the cultural development of the local inhabitants and an integrating feature. Therefore, the starting point for the study was to consider the current conditions of the cultural assets themselves and their subsequent development, outlining action plans for each of the cases analyzed. Specifically, the heritage of Daroca, Ateca, Illueca, Borja and Saviñán was assessed.

The study implemented a method for recreating monuments in 3D using photogrammetry: images were taken with cameras and volumes were filmed with the help of drones. In addition, the action plans proposed were designed according to Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas to develop the idea and Porter’s Five Forces Model for the competitive strategy.

Another reference taken into account in the project are the objectives sought in the European “Heritage Houses for Europe. Exchange and Innovate” project, which is based on measuring the positive impact of preserving family-owned heritage houses in Europe, analyzing innovative replicable business models, creating tools to support managers in the sustainable preservation of family-owned heritage houses, raising awareness on the family-owned heritage house sector and issuing recommendations to EU institutions for unleashing the sectors’ potential.

LINE OF RESEARCH: (3) Management of cultural heritage.


  • Ricardo Monreal Lafuente, art historian.
  • Alba Finol, art historian.
  • Daniel Finol, IT expert.

2019 Fieldwork: Vernacular architecture in Mudejar towns: traditional techniques as a trade for the future in rural areas

The project entitled Traditional vernacular architecture, traditional construction techniques as a trade for the future in rural areas explains how monumental Mudejar architecture uses some of the same materials and techniques as vernacular architecture in many towns. However, over the course of the 20th century industrial development has prompted an abrupt transformation and destruction of vernacular buildings and a gradual decline in traditional construction techniques. In light of this situation, the importance of understanding and appreciating traditional local architecture and its materials has been addressed with a view to ensuring that they are protected, by creating an inventory and conducting a general examination of materials, techniques, types of architecture and current use.

According to this research project, when building users have an understanding of traditional local architecture this will hinder them from replacing it with new buildings and will encourage them to turn to activities aimed at preserving these buildings. Furthermore, awareness of this architecture beyond the limits of the town increases the local inhabitants’ appreciation for it and helps boost the towns’ economy, enabling them to offer cultural experiences that move beyond mere tours of the most important monuments.

The project objectives include raising appreciation for traditional architecture within the area of influence of Aragonese Mudejar art by bolstering the perception of native construction techniques as reliable, sustainable systems and of the buildings made using these techniques as valuable cultural heritage that must be preserved and protected, disseminating and spotlighting the work of local construction-related artisans to promote the endurance of these trades and foster the use of traditional construction techniques in interventions on vernacular heritage, and encouraging the preservation, restoration and compatible renovation of traditional architecture in these settings, to promote the development of sustainable, culturally-friendly tourism.

To this end, the authors have identified and studied the main construction techniques present in the traditional architecture of the Mudejar villages of southern Zaragoza, locating the construction-related artisans working in this area and documenting their work; they have identified and studied the dynamics of intervention on traditional architecture prompted by tourism and have written guidelines for compatible intervention on traditional architecture in the area of influence of the Aragonese Mudejar.

The research work was done in Aniñón, Ateca, Belmonte de Gracián, Cervera de la Cañada, Cosuenda, Daroca, Longares, Maluenda, Romanos, Saviñán, Terrer, Tobed, Torralba de Ribota and Villafeliche.

LINE OF RESEARCH: (1) New Perspectives on Mudejar Art.

THE AUTHOR: Javier Gómez Patrocinio is an architect with a Master’s Degree in Architectural Heritage Preservation and a PhD in Building, Urban Planning and Landscape from the Polytechnic University of Valencia.