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

Church of San Miguel de los Navarros (ZARAGOZA)

Right in the middle of the city, on one side of the plaza with the same name, is the Church of San Miguel de los Navarros. There are records of its existence since the re-conquest of the city in 1118, initially attached to the See of San Salvador until 1260, when it was already mentioned as an independent parish.

Nothing remains of the original Romanesque construction, it having been substituted by the Mudéjar church we now see, with Baroque reforms and additions of the 17th century. Although no documents concerning the church survive, Gonzalo Borrás and other authors, taking into account its artistic characteristics, have dated it to the 14th century. This chronology is supported by a citation by Angel Canellas concerning the tower: according to him it was under construction in 1396 under the masters Esteban and Pablo Ferriz. In addition, a heraldic motif that appears on both the interior and exterior of the apse consisting of a cross with fleur-de-lis finials can also be seen in two Mudejar churches in the province, in Herrera de los Navarros and Azuara, both datable to the 14th century. Finally, the church shares with the town of Herrera the toponymy “de los Navarros.”

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Canonically oriented, one has clear views of both the principal or north façade, and the polygonal apse. The wall at the foot is completely hidden by adjoining structures, while the south side is obscured on its lower half by the lateral aisle added in the Baroque reform and other parochial dependencies.

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The exterior of the bay before the apse perfectly reveals the original structure of the church based on chapels between the buttresses that open on to the nave. As can be observed, the chapels are shallow, as is common in the Mudéjar style, since they only occupy the width of the buttresses.

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The most interesting part of the projecting brick decoration, aside from the tower, is found on the apse exterior. Completely smooth on its lower half, there are elongated windows above this, one in the center of each surface and on the walls of the first bay of the nave.

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On the three central surfaces, on both sides of the window openings, big heraldic crosses with fleur-de-lis finials are placed; the same kinds as on the churches of Herrera de los Navarros and Azuara, as already mentioned. This motif can also be seen on the upper part of the original mudéjar portal rediscovered on La Magdalena, which is not far away.

The decoration of projecting brick on the apse is concentrated towards the top in the form of two bands of simple angled brick which horizontally border a panel of crosses with multiple arms of double brick that form two tiers of big lozenges over a series of arches supported by pilasters of the same width as the lozenges. The center of each of them is occupied by a cross in relief. Over the upper band of angled brick is an eave supported by a band of projecting brackets.

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