un recorrido por el arte mudéjar aragonés
webmaster: José Antonio Tolosa (Zaragoza -España-)

COLLEGIATE CHURCH OF SANTA MARÍA (CALATAYUD)


The Collegiate Church of Santa María la Mayor of Calatayud is the most important church in the city, and there are already documented references to it in the 12th century. If we take into consideration that the official consecration, in the presence of an archbishop and two bishops did not take place until 1249, a hundred and twenty-five years after the Christian conquest of the city, it is clear that a previous church existed. In general practice, after the conquest, the main mosque was consecrated to the Virgin Mary, transforming it into the Cathedral or principal church of the locality. Zaragoza was a case apart, for there the mosque was consecrated to the Savior, since there was already a Mozarabic church dedicated to the Virgen del Pilar. Assuming that at that period almost all resources were dedicated to waging war, it isn’t strange that the change in religion did not cause the immediate construction of a new church, but rather the recycling of the existing mosque for that purpose. A new church was built only when economic circumstances permitted its construction, in this case after more than a century.

CLAUSTRO

Unfortunately, documentary notices about this evolutionary process are scarce, and almost entirely lacking for the majority of churches. In Calatayud there is a document noting the existence of a prior of Santa María in 1156, although it is supposed that the church itself existed since the very time of the conquest. It is possible that there was a document that would have allowed a year for the handing over and conversion of the mosque into a church, since Santa Maria was consecrated in 1121.

Continuing with this hypothesis, it is possible that the official consecration of 1249 made reference to the benediction of a new church, probably in the Mudéjar style, of which nothing remains, since the lower part of the apse in the present church must date later. Taking into consideration that construction of a new church would take two or three decades, it must be presupposed that the old mosque was used during more than a century.

2 PATIO CENTRAL DEL CLAUSTRO Y TORRE 3 VANOS APUNTADOS ENTRE CONTRAFUERTES

In 1412, a pious and rich knight of Calatayud, Miguel Sánchez Algaraví, in thanks to Pope Benedict XIII for receiving his doctorate in Zaragoza or Calatayud without having to go to Rome, founded a Chair of Theology at his expense, donating for this purpose his notable library. In a Papal bull of confirmation the following year, it was noted that the Chair would be located in the cloister of the church of Santa María.

PLANTAS DE LA COLEGIATA Y DEL CLAUSTRO

On September 10, 1415, the Luna Pope founded a General Study where eleven professors would give classes in canon law, medicine, logic, natural philosophy, moral philosophy and grammar, from which studies students could receive their master’s or doctoral degrees. In present terminology it would be a small university, which unfortunately had a very short life. This Study must have been housed in the cloister of Santa María, where the Chair of Theology was located.

5 COLUMNAS EN LA PARTE INTERIOR 6 COLUMNAS EN LA PARTE EXTERIOR 7 COUMNAS EN LA PARTE EXTERIOR

In 1498 the Moorish master builder Mahoma de Duenyas performed work on the tower, and at approximately the same time the updating of the apse was carried out. The magnificent alabaster portal dates to the 16th century (1528). At the beginning of the 17th century, it was decided to rebuild the entire church in a proto-baroque style, incorporating the existing portal, apse and tower, and at the same time destroying the south corner of the cloister.

We know nothing about the old church, although everything indicates that it was consecrated in 1249, and by three and a half centuries later, either grave structural problems encouraged its demolition, or it was simply decided to build a bigger and more modern structure, perhaps in the hope that it might be promoted from Collegiate church to Cathedral—something to which it always aspired but never attained.

8 CAPITELES CORRIDOS 9 CAPITELES CORRIDOS

At the present, the Collegiate church has structural problems necessitating a profound and careful restoration. For this reason, it is closed for worship. Recently the magnificent portal has been restored, which I hope soon to photograph. Through the following pages you will be able to see the different Mudéjar elements in the structure: cloister, chapter rooms, apse, tower and Baroque-Mudéjar stuccowork in the chapels. I hope that you will like this little tour and that it will serve to acquaint you a little more with this monument, one of the best exponents of our Mudéjar style, and for that reason it has been included in the Declaration of the Patrimony of Humankind within this style.

 

 
Interactive map of the Region of the Community of Calatayud
 
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