El Viajero, a project serving the towns and the people who work there.

Following long hours of work and preparation, we are now finishing up the details on our project entitled “El Viajero” (The Traveler), in which we are now doing pilot testing on three activities, never losing sight of sustainability: implementing specialized tours of our heritage based on the research projects we are involved in, creating a central information and booking office, and launching a podcast channel that can be accessed via our website.

In collaboration with Turismo de Aragón (the Aragon tourism office), which called upon non-profit private entities to submit proposals for actions promoting tourism, this initiative seeks to create rural innovation concentrators based on heritage, an objective that we are also developing as part of the LEADER Local Development Strategy through the local action group ADRI Calatayud-Aranda in the projects approved for 2020.

At Territorio Mudéjar, as an artistic and historical heritage management entity focused on the Mudejar, we believe that heritage is a driving force for the development and identity of our towns. And we consider preservation, research and dissemination of the Mudejar identity to be key factors in the creation of tourism activities, which must always be designed from within the region and in conjunction with its inhabitants. This is how we explained it in January at FITUR and this remains our guiding principle in the “El Viajero” project.

The project aims, on the one hand, to enhance the possibilities for bringing visitors of several kinds to the region: traditional travelers, attracted by businesses and activities such as nature, cuisine and spas, to name a few, already existing in the towns, research or educational travelers, and even business travelers; and on the other, it seeks to improve job opportunities and uphold the businesses of professionals related to Mudejar monuments and heritage in each of the towns, such as city council tour guides and heritage and nature-related business owners.

Four signature tours of our member towns have been pilot tested with small groups. Designed by students in the 2020 Challenge Program (DPZ-Universa), the central theme is knowledge about the Mudejar, given that we are supported by superb guides who can explain the topics based on scientific facts.

These tours endeavor to define the towns in this region as a space for tourism focused on preserving our heritage, upholding local communities and opening up hard to reach spaces by means of tailored management and outstanding customer service.

After thoroughly defining the subject matter, in the end the students decided to group the tours around four topics:

a) The origin of the Mudejar: coexisting cultures. Here, we observe how coexisting Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities are reflected in the urban design, dwellings and main monuments.

b) Mudejar highlights, including tours of buildings that clearly reflect the characteristics of Aragonese Mudejar art.

c) Mudejar towers, discovering monumental heritage, urban design and the landscape through these towers.

d) World Heritage, focused on visiting the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Territorio Mudéjar and learning about all the complexities of the Mudejar phenomenon.

Central information and booking office: We have designed and implemented, on a trial basis, a digital switchboard that gives us a line of communication 24 hours a day/7 days a week to meet the information needs of anyone interested in Aragonese Mudejar art and the towns where the monuments are located.

It also enables us to offer our member towns an assessment tool in terms of accessibility to heritage buildings and analysis of demand. The virtual switchboard can be reached by telephone and will forward calls to the pertinent information providers in each town after offering introductory information about Mudejar heritage.

El Viajero: a Territorio Mudéjar podcast channel. The aim is to accompany visitors with entertaining audio clips about the context, history, customs and interesting facts about the places visited. This offers an opportunity to become more familiar with the destination and prepare the journey beforehand, or to be accompanied at all times. This podcast channel got started thanks to one of the Territorio Mudéjar 2020 fieldwork grants, and it will now become part of the El Viajero project.

Like all of our projects, El Viajero is the result of a significant amount of networking and cross-disciplinary collaboration. In this case, students in the 2020 Challenge Program participated (Cátedra de DPZ (DPZ Chair) and Universa) in collaboration with researchers involved in the 2020 Gonzalo M. Borrás Gualis fieldwork grantsEstudio Mique is in charge of technology and usability issues, and Viajar por Aragón has advised us on how to create a model for the Territorio Mudéjar routes in order to complement the existing heritage tourism options and combine proper use of heritage with tourism activities, never losing sight of sustainability and the impact these activities have on the relevant town and its inhabitants.

Our work always takes into account the sustainability of the projects and respect for the inhabitants of our towns. For this reason the activities, which required moving around the towns and were scheduled to take place in October and November, were carried out in highly reduced formats, following diverse recommendations and regulations.

Access is possible via our website homepage (www.territoriomudejar.es).

Further information will be available very soon!

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.