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Mudejar Extremadura

The Islamic culture prevailed in Extremadura from the 8th to the 13th centuries and civil, military and especially religious buildings still continued displaying the mark of this culture, thanks to a artistic style with undoubtable Muslim flavour: the Mudejar. This style flourished profusely in the Extremaduran areas controlled by the Santiago Order in the province of Badajoz and in those places around the Monastery of Guadalupe, being sparse the mudejar examples in areas dominated by other military orders.

So, from the turn of the 13th to the 16th centuries, façades of houses, palaces, fortifications and squares, even bridges, outstanding the towers and the interiors of the churches, were built according to this beautiful artistic style, where wooden roofs, bevelled pillars, tumid arches predominated.

The materials used in these types of buildings in the Mudejar style, where the common characteristic was always the sobriety, are the uncovered rubblework, the granite ashlar and especially the carved bricks. This Islamic tradition mixed with beautiful Gothic traceries, lancet arches, transversal arcades, etc.

The two places with the most beautiful Mudejar-styled examples are situated in the areas which are near other important neighbouring Mudejar centres: Toledo, nearby Guadalupe, located in the Extremaduran east and Seville, to the south of Extremadura.

We start our route in the Monastery of Tentudía, the Vicarage of the Order of “Santiago”. It was built between the 14th and 16th centuries in plain Mudejar style and it possesses a church and two funeral chapels on the Gospel side. One of them is the Chapel of “the masters” of the Order, with the sepulchres of Gonzalo de Mejía (1359/1380) and Fernando Ozores (1371/1382), besides the sepulchre of King Enrique’s valet, García Hernández.

The other one, the Chapel of Juan Zapata, is on the Epistle side. Outstanding is the cloister made of brick, with four galleries on two levels. Inside the Church its High Altarpiece stands out, made of tiling from the beginning of the 15th century, a work of Niculoso Pisano.
Segura de León keeps its castle Mudejar in form. In the nearby village, Fregenal de la Sierra, we find the Mudejar-styled Church of “Santa Catalina” from the beginning of the 15th century. It has three naves made of rubblework and brick, with an important Mudejar roof. Going towards Zafra we will pass through Puebla de Sancho Pérez, where we can see the Mudejar tower of its Parish Church.

In Zafra there are several examples of this style, from some façades in the “Plaza Chica” (Small Square) to the coffered ceilings of the Palace of the Duke and Duchess of “Feria”, the present “Parador de Turismo”, the magnificent “Plaza Grande” and “Plaza Chica” in the town, with arcades which give them their welcoming aspect, as beautiful as the Convent of “Santa Clara”.

On the outskirts of Zafra we find other interesting Mudejar buildings, such as the Town Hall in La Parra, the Hermitage of “Finibus Terrae” in Almendral, the castle in Villalba de los Barros , the tower of the Parish Church in Fuente del Maestre and the Parish Church in Usagre, which unfortunately lost its interesting coffered ceiling.

On our way to the south we can visitGranja de Torrehermosa. First we will pass through Llerena, a magnificent southern example of a town which is plentiful in buildings in the Mudejar style, like the tower of the Church of “Ntra. Sra. de la Granada” or the courtyard of the Inquisition Court, as well as the well-known Palace of the Bishop. Outstanding is its impressive “Plaza Mayor “ (Main Square) with its beautiful arcade.

We can make a detour to visit Fuente del Arco, on the boundaries of Andalusia, where we can visit the Mudejar arcade of the Hermitage of “Ntra. Sra. del Ara”. From there we will head for Azuaga, where we can contemplate the beautiful fourteenth-century Church of “la Merced”, which possesses an attractive lancet horseshoe arch in the main front. This church is similar in form to the Mudejar temples from the neighbouring Sierra in Seville . Bricks and fitted rubblework stand out because of their beauty and contrast. A few kilometres away lies Granja de Torrehermosa, which is named after the beautiful Mudejar tower of the Church of “la Concepción” .

This impressive building made of rubblework and bricks arranged in horizontal lines, owns one of the most beautiful Gothic-mudejar-styled tower-façade in Extremadura, built mid 16th c. The doors and the interior 16th c. The doors and the interior of the Church are as beautiful as this tower-façade.

The Order of Santiago also promoted the Mudejar-styled building in a series of nearby villages which own, just as Granja de Torrehermosa, a parish Church with a very beautiful tower-façade; these villages, with buildings from the 15th and 16th c., are Hinojosa del Valle, Hornachos, Puebla de la Reina , Palomas and Alange.

Hornachos was one of the centres of population in the east of the Peninsula which had a great number of “moriscos” in the 16th c., many of them were the builders of the Mudejar buildings in the Extremaduran South. In Palomas we can contemplate on of the few examples of Mudejar-styled bridges in Extremadura, built over the river Palomillas.

Mérida, 18 kilometres from Alange, scarcely has any Mudejar buildings where we can see the Mudejar style, except for the central section of the Mudejar octagonal framework which covers the “Basílica de Santa Eulalia”.

The roof which must cover the “Concatedral of Santa María” (Saint Mary’s Church) does not exist at present. On the way to Badajoz it is worth visiting the Parish Church in Lobón and, in the capital city, the present building of the Provincial Museum of Archaeology, the Palace of the Duke and the Duchess of “la Roca”, has an admirable sixteenth-century Mudejar courtyard on two levels of arcades : the lower level, with stilted arches on pilaster, where we can see the bevelled bricks and the upper level with segmental arches. Next to this Palace located in the “Alcazar”, we have the “Plaza de San José” (Square of San José), with clear Mudejar examples of arcades and façades.

In the city of Cáceres, in Aldana street, we can find the so-called “Casa Mudejar”, built around the turn of the 14th c. and mid 15th c., with beautiful tumid arches. This is an outstanding construction because it is the only one of this style we can find in the magnificent medieval enclosure in Cáceres.

To the north of the region we can visit two places with very important Mudejar examples, both of them located near Plasencia.

One of them is Abadía, in “Valle de Ambroz” (Ambroz Valley), where we can find the Palace of the Duke and Duchess of Alba, which has an attractive courtyard with a Mudejar cloister and four galleries from the 16th c. This palace is also known as “Sotofermoso”.

A few kilometres before reaching Plasencia we can see the oldest Mudejar construction in Extremadura, we refer to the apse of the Church of “Ntra. Sra. de la Asunción” in Galisteo dating back to the turn of the 13th century. In former times this church was Mudejar in style, it is located next to the admirable “Almohade” rampart, probably from the 11th century.

One of the jewels of the Extremadura Mudejar style is the Royal Monastery of Guadalupe, which has fortunately been declared Heritage for Mankind. Throughout the centuries, and sometimes after difficult works of restoration, it has known to combine and preserve its rich Mudejar heritage co-existing with other artistic styles of great importance . Outstanding is its cloister, which is rectangular in shape. It has two sections of arcades on both sides.
Each gallery is formed by tumid arches, framed by an “alfiz” (moulding), which stand on two pillars with squared bases and with rare and original bevelled arrises. In the middle of the courtyard of this cloister stands a Mudejar pavillion, unique in its style, it was built in 1405 by Friar Juan de Sevilla. The so-called “Torre de las Campanas” is also Mudejar in style. The Gothic yard, with Mudejar influences, is used as the Monastery Inn.

Outside the village we can see the Mudejar patio in the “Granja de Mirabel”, which can be visited on Thursdays, and the small temple called the “Humilladero”, from the beginning of the 15th century, being the shrine of the Holy Cross.

Near Guadalupe we can visit Alía, with its Mudejar-styled Parish Church of “Santa Catalina” , from the 15th century. It owns a decoration with undoubtable Islamic tradition combined with Gothic elements.

To the south of Guadalupe, we find Valdecaballeros, with its Parish Church. The nave is Mudejar in style, with round and lancet arches.

To the south, also in the region of “La Siberia Extremeña”, Herrera del Duque andPuebla de Alcocer own Mudejar features in their fortifications. In the case of Herrera del Duque, it is also interesting the tower of the Parish Church, where the Islamic minaret is preserved. We can not forget the cloister of the Convent of “San Francisco” in Puebla de Alcocer.

Capilla, in the region of “La Serena”, has its Parish Church and many features in its castle Mudejar in style.

To the north of Guadalupe, Berzocana has an interesting Mudejar tower , which was also built using the Islamic minaret.

TOWNS

Segura de León
Llerena
Azuaga
Granja de Torrehermosa
La Parra
Zafra
Hornachos
Puebla de la Reina
Palomas
Alange
Badajoz
Puebla de Alcocer
Herrera del Duque
Valdecaballeros
Guadalupe
Alía
Cáceres

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