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.


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.

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.

Territorio Mudéjar participates in the CortonaOpen3D workshop as an example of innovative heritage management

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.

Journey into the Mudejar with the special course at 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.

This year, we’ll be visiting 16 towns, all of which are part of Territorio Mudéjar, and traveling hundreds of kilometers between the valleys in the districts of CalatayudArandaDaroca and Valdejalón with the director of Territorio Mudéjar, Victoria Trasobares; supervising professor of the UNED in Calatayud, José Luis Cortés; University of Zaragoza professor, Rebeca Carretero; art historian at Centro de Estudios Bilbilitanos, Silvia Molina, and Elena Paulino, from the Complutense University.

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).
  • 6:30 PM. Closing ceremony.

The Aragonese Mudejar, a mouse-click away around the world with the Google Arts and Culture platform

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 holds its annual assembly with 34 towns in attendance and an action plan for spotlighting Mudejar heritage and creating jobs in rural areas

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.

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:

2019 Fieldwork: Contemporary Mudejar imagery: expanding the views of what Mudejar is and creating a map of the region based on memories and emotions

The project entitled Contemporary Mudejar imagery aims to refresh the set of symbols and memories associated with this artistic and cultural phenomenon, moving beyond mere architectural elements. It proposes researching and reflecting, from an image-focused perspective, on the relationships that the inhabitants of these places have had not only with the monuments here, but also with the landscape, traditions, trades and even construction materials, which reflect a true attachment to the region. This initiative has afforded a new perspective on previously existing visual heritage, creating and integrating a contemporary new ‘level’ in the set of references that have up to now defined what Mudejar means.

The first phase of the project dealt with the state of the art, entailing a review of all the photographic archives held by diverse local entities and agents in order to construct new stories that help spread the importance of images in 21st century communication and serve to teach about new visual languages that can be used to transmit a new way of “being Mudejar”.

The second phase of the fieldwork was linked to the project entitled Mapping Local Identities, selected by the Ministry of Culture and Sport in the 2019 call for proposals on Cultural Industries for the company Ad Hoc Gestión Cultural, in which photographs of local groups of residents were collected. Collection activities took place in several towns: Cervera de la Cañada, Belmonte de Gracián and Tobed, but their effects were also felt throughout Territorio Mudéjar over the internet and the social media, thus not only generating virtual feedback but also prompting short trips and meetings, which aid in “community-building”. More info at:

One of the conclusions reached in this research is that a specific methodology must be developed for collecting family images in rural settings in order to recover the history and “intra-history” of these communities in an effort to make the cataloguing process more “professional”. Furthermore, the study indicates that it is necessary to move beyond the concept of vernacular/popular photography as a mere instrument of documentation and memory, to view it as an instrument for the construction of identity and the projection of certain values for the future. In addition, it paves the way for building a network across municipalities through which to exchange knowledge about images, compare them, find similarities and strengthen the sense of identity within Territorio Mudéjar, while also establishing and reinforcing the link between people and their Mudejar heritage, appealing to their shared past.

LINE OF RESEARCH: This project can be categorized under two lines of research: (1) New Perspectives on Mudejar Art and (5) The role of heritage in society.

THE AUTHOR: Irene Ruiz has a PhD in Art History, a Bachelor’s degree in fine arts, specializing in photography, a degree in architectural engineering, a Master’s in restoration and a diploma in business. She is currently a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Architecture and Design at the Polytechnic University of Turin, combining this work with her activities as a professional photographer. More info:

2019 Fieldwork: Mudejar heritage and learning, educational material: understanding heritage to appreciate it and create models for rural development

A cross-disciplinary team of seven researchers has developed the fieldwork project entitled Landscape, cultural heritage and depopulation, which consists in preparing educational materials for secondary school students to work on the relationships between depopulation and cultural heritage in the Territorio Mudéjar towns as part of their classwork. The aim is for students to acquire skills that help them understand and appreciate this heritage and to come up with models and proposals for rural development in order to counteract depopulation trends.

LoThe materials are openly available for use by other schools, thus also fostering knowledge about Mudejar heritage in towns beyond Territorio Mudéjar. They can be found at:

These materials introduce the use of ICTs in the classroom, with tools that are similar to those already widely in use in the workplace, and they offer students a geographic analysis tool with which to work on the curriculum contents of the subject of Geography. They also provide an educational resource that promotes methodological and didactic renewal, and teachers can adapt them to the characteristics of the group or to specific students. Guidance, support and online training in the use and development of this application during the school year are also available.

The materials created are presented on a website arranged into several sections. Firstly, there are multimedia applications about specific theme-based content, which were prepared in Story Map Cascade, a template that combines narrative text, maps, images and multimedia content. In each application there are interactive maps for working with distinct layers of information, with activities and instructions for the students. There are also field project viewers that are used for planning, capturing, analyzing and presenting different projects carried out on site in relation to intangible heritage, natural heritage, cultural heritage and types of landscape. Finally, some brief explanatory videos about the interactive maps and their tools have been added.

This secondary school project complements the Territorio Mudéjar initiative for primary school entitled “Rural school as the start of the circle”, in which we aim to introduce heritage working methods into the curricula of rural schools. The objective is for students to understand and appreciate the heritage that surrounds them, thus strengthening their roots and identification with their region.

LINE OF RESEARCH. (2) Territorio Mudéjar and cultural landscape


  • Carlos Guallart Moreno, project coordinator, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Geography and History and a Master’s in Territorial and Environmental Organization, at Santa María del Pilar school (Zaragoza).
  • Noelia Cuartero Latorre, a graduate in Geography and Regional Planning from the University of Zaragoza.
  • María Felisa Ferraz Gracia, who holds a PhD in Information and Documentation, at Sagrado Corazón de Jesús school (Zaragoza).
  • María Laguna Marín-Yaseli, with a PhD in Geography, at El Salvador school (Zaragoza).
  • Alfredo Ollero Ojeda, with a PhD in Geography, University of Zaragoza
  • Beatriz Rodrigo Garza, holding a Bachelor’s Degree in Art History and a Master’s in Cultural Heritage Management, teacher at La Azucarera secondary school (Zaragoza)
  • Javier Velilla Gil, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Geography and History, and department head at El Portillo secondary school (Zaragoza).