Cathedral of Santa María de la Huerta, Tarazona

The Cathedral of Santa María de la Huerta, Tarazona, was declared an “Asset of Cultural Interest” in 2002. It is the principal place of worship in this town in Aragon and has many unique features.

Attention is first drawn to the fact that it was erected on an extensive site located on the right bank of the river Queiles, at a distance from the centre of the medieval town and surrounded by vegetable gardens. Archaeological test pits, which have brought to light the existence of a 4th century semi-circular building which could possibly be a late Roman – Visigothic basilica (6th and 7th centuries) and the vestiges of a Romanesque apse and capitals, indicate that it was located at a site traditionally intended for important buildings, over which the early Gothic cathedral was built, as known today.

Work started in the middle of the 12th century and, since then, a number of extensions and changes have been made. Although, until now, it has always been classified as a building of the Gothic-Mudejar style, the cathedral is really a mixture of many different styles given the fact that there are parts of its construction which merge all the styles from the 12th century onwards. If it had not taken so long to build, and if it had not suffered serious damage during the War of the Two Pedros (1356 – 1369), it would be the best example of Gothic architecture with a French influence, in Aragon. Although it is precisely this long period of time that has also made it a gem of the Mudejar period, immortalising the long existence of Islam in this area of Aragon. All in all, in the middle of the 16th century, the cathedral interior was renovated in the Renaissance style, one of the key discoveries of the restoration which has given it the nickname of the “Sistine Chapel of Spanish Renaissance”. Subsequently, a number of Baroque elements were added.

The expectation created following its closure to the public for more than three decades, together with the importance and wealth of the archaeological and artistic findings, have made its re-opening one of the most eagerly awaited artistic events in Aragon and in Spain.

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