Name of Monument:

Mudéjar Palace of Aljafería

Location:

Saragossa, Spain

Date of Monument:

14th and 15th centuries

Architect(s) / master-builder(s):

Jucef Bellito, Mahoma Bellito, Farax Gali, Mahoma Palacio, Brahem Mofferiz.

Period / Dynasty

Mudéjar

Patron(s):

Pedro IV of Aragon (r. 1336–87); Isabel I de Castile (r. 1474–1504) and Fernando II of Aragon and V of Castile (r. 1474–1516).

Description:

The conquest of Saragossa by Alfonso I of Aragon took place on 18 December 1118, and it was on this date that the Aljafería Palace came into Christian hands. For almost two centuries its structure remained almost unchanged, with only minor architectural alterations being made. The palace played a fundamental symbolic role in the coronation ceremonies of the sovereigns of Aragon: it was from here that the royal entourage left to go to San Salvador cathedral.
The Mudéjar part of the Aljafería was built around the original Taifa-period building, and was started during the reign of Pedro IV of Aragon (1336–87). The chapels of St Martin, situated in the northeast corner of the wall, and St George, originally in the southern part of the palace but now lost, were built at this time. The western arcade was added to the main courtyard, which came to be known as the courtyard of Santa Isabel after the square room of the same name, crowned with an octagonal cupola and located above the mosque. Three new rectangular rooms, covered with flat alfarje ceilings, were also built on the upper floor.
Following several years of relative abandon, the arrival of the Catholic Kings Isabel I of Castile and Fernando II of Aragon caused work to be restarted. The construction of a monumental stairway on the west side of the courtyard gave access to the upper floor and the Throne Room, the Room of the Lost Steps and the Room of the Deliberations. In addition to the rich coffered ceiling, the original flooring of the new rooms, produced in the workshops of Muel (Saragossa), have survived.
A double inscription that runs around the base of the Mudéjar coffered ceiling of the Throne Room informs us that the work was completed in 1492. An abundance of archived documentation provides us with a wealth of detail on the works and the names of the Muslim master craftsmen who worked over generations on the Aljafería: Jucef Bellito, Mahoma Bellito, Farax Gali, Mahoma Palacio and Brahem Mofferiz.
It stopped being used as a royal residence in the 16th century and was turned into a fortress. The condition of the site deteriorated over the centuries. The slow process of restoration was begun in 1947, culminating in 1998 when it became the seat of the Regional Assembly of Aragon.

View Short Description

Having conquered Saragossa, Alfonso I of Aragon took up residence in the Muslim palace of Aljafería, and this originated the symbolic use of the building for the coronation ceremonies of the kings of Aragon. The work commissioned by later kings to extend and convert the palace followed the Mudéjar style. By the time the Catholic Kings came to power, Andalusian elements were mixing with Late Gothic and Early Renaissance influences, and this can be seen in the monumental staircase and the coffered ceilings.

How Monument was dated:

A wealth of documentation on the work carried out over the years has survived, providing a great deal of information including the dates of the modifications and the master builders who participated in them.

Selected bibliography:

Borrás Gualís, G. M., Arte Mudéjar Aragonés, Saragossa, 1978, pp.26–7.
López Guzmán, R., Arquitectura Mudéjar: Del Sincretismo Medieval a las Alternativas Hispanoamericanas, Madrid, 2000, pp.30, 306–9, 346–7, 365.
Mudéjar Art: Islamic Aesthetics in Christian Art, pp.88–92.

Citation of this web page:

M.ª del Carmen Alonso Rodríguez "Mudéjar Palace of Aljafería" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2017. 2017. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=monument;ISL;es;Mon01;20;en

Prepared by: M.ª Del Carmen Alonso RodríguezM.ª del Carmen Alonso Rodríguez

María del Carmen Alonso Rodríguez es arqueóloga. En la actualidad está vinculada, como colaboradora, al Departamento de Ciencias y Técnicas Historiográficas de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Ha participado en numerosos proyectos de investigación, entre los que figura el estudio de las alfarerías romanas en la bahía de Cádiz. También ha sido miembro de proyectos europeos en los que ha tomado parte el Museo Arqueológico Nacional, como los denominados RAMA (Remote Access to Museum Archives), RACE y Champollion. Entre sus trabajos recientes, ha publicado estudios de las antigüedades ingresadas en las colecciones reales españolas en el siglo XVIII y de las excavaciones patrocinadas por Carlos III en las ciudades de Pompeya, Herculano y Estabias.

Copyedited by: Rosalía AllerRosalía Aller

Rosalía Aller Maisonnave, licenciada en Letras (Universidad Católica del Uruguay), y en Filología Hispánica y magíster en Gestión Cultural de Música, Teatro y Danza (Universidad Complutense de Madrid), ha obtenido becas de la Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional y la Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia de Madrid, así como el Diplôme de Langue Française (Alliance Française), el Certificate of Proficiency in English (University of Cambridge) y el Certificado Superior en inglés y francés (Escuela Oficial de Idiomas de Madrid). Profesora de Estética de la Poesía y Teoría Literaria en la Universidad Católica del Uruguay, actualmente es docente de Lengua Castellana y Literatura en institutos de Enseñanza Secundaria y formación del profesorado en Madrid. Desde 1983, ha realizado traducción y edición de textos en Automated Training Systems, Applied Learning International, Videobanco Formación y El Derecho Editores. Integra el equipo de Museo Sin Fronteras desde 1999 y ha colaborado en la revisión de los catálogos de “El Arte Islámico en el Mediterráneo”. Así mismo, ha realizado publicaciones sobre temas literarios y didácticos, ha dictado conferencias y ha participado en recitales poéticos.

Translation by: Laurence Nunny
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen

MWNF Working Number: SP 24

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