Territorio Mudéjar, two years working for heritage and our towns

Territorio Mudéjar has now been working for two years, guided by Mudejar heritage in the broadest sense, and we are tremendously grateful to everyone who makes it possible for us to continue building this collaborative network. We now form a community of 34 towns with their active inhabitants and a multi-disciplinary team of researchers, partners and students. Together we strive to make Mudejar heritage a driver of development for the towns and also an emblem of identity that helps uphold the population.

Over these two years, we have worked with scientific rigor to further the knowledge about Mudejar culture, we have acted as its spokesperson, and we have launched projects that contribute to the sustainable social and economic development of our network of towns.

Among the actions in our annual work plan, two initiatives stand out:

One, the Challenge Program, sponsored by the Provincial Government of Zaragoza through the Cátedra DPZ de Despoblación y Creatividad (Zaragoza Provincial Government Chair for Depopulation and Creativity), which enabled University of Zaragoza students to carry out internships in Territorio Mudéjar (four in 2019 and seven this year). The students in the 2019 edition wrapped up the program by putting what they had learned into practice with a tour of the towers in Ricla, Longares, Romanos, Terrer and Tauste. The participants in 2020, in turn, began in August with an introduction to the entity and its working methods, familiarizing them with the Territorio Mudéjar network and its main stakeholders, followed by training in diverse disciplines and fieldwork.

Two, the Gonzalo M. Borrás Gualis Fieldwork Grants, which make it possible to develop responsible, sustainable and innovative projects that have a direct impact on rural settings, foster their visibility and raise awareness about the area. In the spring, we completed the first edition with project presentations given by researchers. Now, we have just chosen the winning candidates in the second call for proposals, awarding five grants and one second prize in fields such as the recovery 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.

As part of our networking endeavors, through our collaboration with the ADRI groups, we continue working on the initiative called “Territorio Mudéjar circular desde la escuela” (Territorio Mudéjar, circular from schools), which aims to help the children in our towns learn to recognize and appreciate from a young age the heritage surrounding them, thus bolstering a sense of regional identity.

Furthermore, we are increasingly present at forums on heritage and innovation. In this regard, we participated in the 1st Annual ICOMOS Spain Symposium of Natural and Cultural Heritage, held in Madrid in November, where the latest research done in the field of monument preservation, restoration, documentation, awareness and dissemination was presented. Also in November, we attended the Meeting of Spanish World Heritage Managers, which gathered in Cordoba to discuss the topic of ‘World Heritage accessible to everyone’, organized by the Spanish Ministry of Culture and Sports.

In conjunction with other entities devoted to heritage management and rural development, in January we took part in the first meeting with local agents from the province of Zaragoza in the MOMAr Interreg Europe projectModels of Management for Singular Rural Heritage, an initiative led by the Provincial Government of Zaragoza for the purpose of designing new rural heritage management models that foster sustainable development and adapt to the specific features of each region. Along these lines, we also presented our working model at the MOMAr Interreg Europe meeting held in Corsica in March.

And in August we shared our innovative management of artistic and historical heritage in a rural setting at the CortonaOpen3D workshop , a specialized course in computer graphics and smart city design applied to cultural heritage, which was held in the Italian city of Cortona, in the province of Arezzo (Tuscany).

In terms of outreach and communication, the towns and heritage of Territorio Mudéjar were featured in the January issue of “World Heritage“ magazine, published by the UNESCO World Heritage Centre.

Moreover, the Mudejar architecture in our member towns can now be accessed at the click of a mouse by anyone, anywhere in the world, thanks to an initiative by the Provincial Government of Zaragoza in collaboration with Territorio Mudéjar, which made it possible to include these monuments in the “UNESCO World Heritage” collection on Google Arts and Culture. This multi-lingual platform has received more than 175 million visits and includes a mobile application that has been downloaded more than 30 million times, offering virtual tours of museums and heritage treasures around the world.

In addition, for yet another year, we participated in the course entitled Viaje al arte mudéjar (Journey into Mudejar art) in July, one of the special courses offered by University of Zaragoza, aimed at directly studying Mudejar art by taking in-depth tours of the most emblematic monuments in these areas.

In terms of special events, in December we set up a special schedule of activities to commemorate the 18th anniversary of the designation of Mudejar architecture of Aragon as UNESCO World Heritage. This included promoting visits to the towns, project activities and a live radio broadcast from Tobed.

In January, at FITUR 2020, the important tourism trade fair, we presented our proposal for developing 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.

And on April 18, we joined in on the celebration of the International Day for Monuments and Sites with special videos.

During the year we also bolstered our presence in the media and in social media by creating our own content (videos, live broadcasts…) and new YouTube and LinkedIn channels. Our goal is to make our networks the benchmark space for information and knowledge about Mudejar, in the broadest sense, and to spotlight our member towns and the activities taking place there.