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Teruel Cathedral, one of ten Mudéjar monuments of Aragon that comprise the World Heritage Site
Tower of the Santa María Church in Calatayud
San Pedro de Teruel Interior, Spain.
San Pedro Church, Cloister, Teruel.

Mudéjar (Spanish: [muˈðexar, muˈðehar], Portuguese: [muˈðɛʒaɾ], Catalan: Mudèjar [muˈðɛʒər], Arabic: مدجن‎‎ trans. Mudajjan, "tamed; domesticated"[1]) is the name given to individual Moors or Muslims of Al-Andalus who remained in Iberia after the Christian Reconquista but were not converted to Christianity, unlike Moriscos who were forcibly converted.

Mudéjar also denotes a style of Iberian architecture and decoration, particularly of Aragon and Castile strongly influenced by Moorish taste and workmanship.

The Treaty of Granada (1491) protected religious and cultural freedoms for Muslims in the imminent transition from the Emirate of Granada to a Province of Castile. After the fall of the last Islamic kingdom after the Battle of Granada in January 1492, Mudéjars, unlike the Jews' Alhambra Decree (1492) expulsion, kept a protected religious status, although there were Catholic efforts to convert them. However, in the mid-16th century, their situation gradually deteriorated, culminating in the Expulsion of the Moriscos from 1609, when they had to convert to Christianity or leave the country. In this period, because of suspicions that they were not truly converted, or crypto-Muslims, they were known as Moriscos. The distinctive Mudéjar style is still evident in regional architecture, as well as in the music, art, and crafts, especially Hispano-Moresque ware, lustreware pottery which was widely exported across Europe.


The word Mudéjar is a Medieval Spanish corruption of the Arabic word Mudajjan مدجن, meaning "tamed", in a reference to the Muslims who submitted to the rule of the Christian kings.

Mudéjar style

In erecting Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance buildings, builders used elements of Islamic art and often achieved striking results. Its influence survived into the 17th century.

The Mudéjar style, a symbiosis of techniques and ways of understanding architecture resulting from Muslim and Christian cultures living side by side, emerged as an architectural style in the 12th century on the Iberian peninsula. It is characterised by the use of brick as the main material. Mudéjar did not involve the creation of new shapes or structures (unlike Gothic or Romanesque), but the reinterpretation of Western cultural styles through Islamic influences. Mudejar art was influenced by ancient Arabic scripts, Kufic and Naskhi, which follow repetitive rhythmic patterns.

The dominant geometrical character, distinctly Islamic, emerged conspicuously in the accessory crafts using less expensive materials: elaborate tilework, brickwork, wood carving, plaster carving, and ornamental metals. To enliven the planar surfaces of wall and floor, Mudéjar style developed complicated tiling patterns. Even after Muslims were no longer employed in architecture, many of the elements they had introduced continued to be incorporated into Spanish architecture, thereby giving it a distinctive appearance. The term Mudejar style was first coined in 1859 by José Amador de los Ríos, an Andalusian historian and archeologist.

Historians agree that the Mudéjar style developed in Sahagún, León,[2] as an adaptation of architectural and ornamental motifs[3] (especially through decoration with plasterwork and brick). Mudéjar extended to the rest of the Kingdom of León, Toledo, Ávila, Segovia, etc., giving rise to what has been called brick Romanesque style. Centers of Mudéjar art are found in other cities, such as Toro, Cuéllar, Arévalo and Madrigal de las Altas Torres.

It became most highly developed mainly in Aragon, especially in Teruel (although also in Zaragoza, Utebo, Tauste, Daroca, Calatayud, etc.) During the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries, many imposing Mudéjar-style towers were built in the city of Teruel, changing the aspect of the city. This distinction has survived to the present day. Mudéjar led to a fusion between the incipient Gothic style and the Muslim influences that had been integrated with late Romanesque. A particularly fine Mudéjar example is the Casa de Pilatos, built in the early 16th century at Seville. Seville includes many other examples of Mudéjar style. The Alcázar of Seville is considered one of the greatest surviving examples of the style. The Alcázar expresses Gothic and Renaissance styles, as well as Mudéjar. The Palace originally began as a Moorish fort. Pedro of Castile continued the Islamic architectural style when he had the palace expanded. The parish church of Santa Catalina (pictured) was built in the 14th century over an old mosque.


The Islamic conquest of Spain beginning in 711 began the merging of Gothic and Islamic art. Historians argue that the Spanish Reconquest began (718-722) with the Battle of Covadonga. During the Spanish Reconquest, Christians practiced tolerance and allowed the Moors to remain in Spain. Spain was the center of the Mudejar style. Mudejar art is exclusive to Spain because of the unique convergence of Arabic and European cultures. The Fall of Granada during the Spanish Reconquest marked the end of Islamic rule in Spain. The Fall of Granada also marked the decline of influence of Mudejar art in the Iberian Peninsula. The reconquest of Spain by the Christians slowed the development of Mudejar Art.[4]


Portugal also has examples of Mudéjar art and architecture, although the examples are fewer and the style simpler in decoration than in neighbouring Spain. Mudéjar brick architecture is only found in the apse of the Church of Castro de Avelãs [1], near Braganza, similar to the prototypical Church of Sahagún in León. A hybrid gothic-mudéjar style developed also in the Alentejo province in southern Portugal during the 15th–16th centuries, where it overlapped with the manueline style. The windows of the Royal Palace and the Palace of the Counts of Basto in Évora are good examples of this style. Decorative arts of Mudéjar inspiration are also found in the tile patterns of churches and palaces, such as the 16th-century tiles, imported from Seville, that decorate the Royal Palace of Sintra. Mudéjar wooden roofs are found in churches in Sintra, Caminha, Funchal, Lisbon and some other places.

Latin America

Latin America also has examples of Mudéjar art and architecture, for example in Coro a World Heritage Site in Venezuela. Other examples of the style in Latin America include the Monastery of San Francisco in Lima, Peru, and the Iglesia del Espíritu Santo in Havana, Cuba.[5]

Neo-Mudéjar architecture


See also


  1. Wehr, Hans (1979). Arabic-English Dictionary. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz. ISBN 0-87950-003-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Missing or empty |title= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Missing or empty |title= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Reconquista
  5. Puig, Francisco Prat (1947). El pre-Barroco en Cuba: una escuela criolla de arquitectura morisca. Biblioteca Nacional José Marti.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Boswell, John (1978). Royal Treasure: Muslim Communities Under the Crown of Aragon in the Fourteenth Century. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-02090-2
  • Harvey, L. P. (1992). "Islamic Spain, 1250 to 1500". Chicago : University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-31960-1
  • Harvey, L. P. (2005). "Muslims in Spain, 1500 to 1614." Chicago : University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-31963-6
  • Menocal, Maria Rosa (2002). "Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain". Little, Brown, & Co. ISBN 0-316-16871-8
  • Rubenstein, Richard (2003). "Aristotle's Children: How Christians, Muslims, and Jews Rediscovered Ancient Wisdom and Illuminated the Middle Ages." Harcourt Books. ISBN 0-15-603009-8

External links