un recorrido por el arte mudéjar aragonés
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THE ALJAFERÍA (ZARAGOZA)

Saint Isabel’s Patio


From the time of the reign of Pedro IV, a new palace was being constructed, according to a document of the Cancellería Real signed in Monroyo on April 6, 1356. It states that Blasco Aznárez de Borau was the commissioner of this new project, while the rest of the administration concerning the palace continued to be under the district judge Juan Eximén de Osca. In addition, the latter was responsible, according to another document, to give Aznárez lodging in the palace during construction. This appointment after two years of work during which the said judge must have been administrator of the works suggests that the works were excessively in arrears and that there were cost overruns, so that there was ample reason to name an administrator to exclusively oversee the construction while he lived within the same space.

Despite the preserved documentation that corresponds to the year 1358, it seems that the bulk of the work of this new construction took place during the four previous years: 1354 to 1358.

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If the chronology of this work is more or less well defined, the actual construction is less so, since in spite of restoration work carried out in the Mudéjar sections by the architects Luís Franco and Mariano Pemán, there still remains confusion about the monument. Gonzalo Borrás estimates that in its plan, the “new palace” respected and integrated into the north block of the Taifa palace, remaining enclosed and masked by new construction that either abutted to the north, or was built over the Islamic portals and wings extending towards the south.

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In this way, the Salón Dorado and the room above it had two other rooms added, abutting it on the north side and limited towards the east by the Troubadour’s Tower. These were two big Mudéjar rooms, one on the ground floor, the other above it. In this same period the second room on the upper floor over the Salón Dorado was remodeled, considered contemporaneous by scholars to the time period. At a lower level than these two upper rooms they built in a “U” shape over the garden of Saint Isabel’s patio, other rooms that served as balconies, and these were largely eliminated by the work on the palace of the Catholic Kings, except for one doorway and two windows that we will examine on later pages.

We can suppose that the Salón Dorado would continue to be used as the Royal Chamber and that the western alcove would serve as the Royal Bedroom. As for the Royal Bedroom, Pedro IV contracted for a fireplace to be constructed in it on December 16, 1359.

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Part of the medieval palace that remains undocumented is the western arcade of Santa Isabel’s Patio. In spite of this, Borrás attributes it on stylistic grounds to the construction period of the new palace of Pedro IV. This arcade is made up of four big pointed arches with poly-lobed intradoses and twin openings at the spandrels to lighten the wall. The arches are supported by simple capitals over engaged half-columns, on square pillars, all made of flat brick.

 

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