(active 1250s in Aragon)

Exterior view

Cathedral of Santa María, Teruel

Mudéjar art, a style which is native and unique to the history of Spain, was a meeting point between Christianity and Islam. The term Mudéjar refers to the Muslims who continued to practice their religion and their customs in the territories that became part of Christian dominions as the Reconquest advanced into southern Spain. It came into being and flourished thanks to the social phenomenon represented by the climate of peaceful coexistence between three cultures: Christian, Muslim and Jewish. This system of Islamic artistic work (materials, techniques, formal elements) left its mark both on Christian architecture and on its sumptuary arts. Between the 11th and 16th centuries, in certain major centres – Castile-León, Toledo, Seville, and Aragon – the Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance styles took on their distinctive Mudéjar forms.

The Mudéjars were highly skilled craftsmen who created an extremely successful mixture of Arabic and Spanish artistic elements. The Mudejar style is marked by the frequent use of the horseshoe arch and the vault, and it distinguishes the church and palace architecture of Toledo, Córdoba, Seville, and Valencia. The Mudéjar hand is also evident in the ornamentation of wood and ivory, metalwork, ceramics, and textiles; and their lustre pottery is second only to that of the Chinese.

Mudéjar culture spread far beyond the borders of Castile. A parallel architectural development can be identified in Aragon, where a number of high towers were erected. Built to square or octagonal ground plans and richly decorated in their horizontal registers, they are the descendants if Islamic minarets. The finest examples are in Teruel. The various towers are quite different from those of other regions by virtue of their multicolored ceramic inlays, which break up wall surfaces in bold patterns. Notable examples include the cathedral and the church of San Martín.

The photo shows the bell tower of the cathedral Santa María in Teruel.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.