Cathedral of Tarazona

Tarazona, Zaragoza, Aragón.
Medal/Award in the category Conservation in the year 2015.

Dating of the building: 12th century.

Applicant: Fernando Aguerri.

Reason for the award :

In consideration of the detailed and progressive Master Plan, as well as the excellent example of institutional cooperation between the Bishopric of Tarazona, the Government of Aragon, and the Institute of Spanish Historical Heritage.

Not only has this monumental building been saved, but archaeological work has also yielded great finds, consisting of a late Roman necropolis, a public building from the lower imperial period with polychrome mosaics, and the Christian precedents of the cathedral itself.

The Cathedral of Tarazona, constructed in the 12th century in the French Gothic style, was consecrated in 1232. Its architecture combines Gothic and Mudejar elements. Its location outside the walls is very striking and exceptional, which may be attributed to the fact that, on those grounds, there was an ancient Mozarabic church.

The passing of the centuries took its toll on the building, and it was partially closed in the 1980s. In 1992, its doors were closed permanently due to complete deterioration, which was manifest in cracks in the pavement, damaged personal property, props to support the walls, leaks, an aborted museum project, and dismantled choir stalls. In 1996, a competition for the Master Plan was organized to establish the necessary actions. Between that same year and 2011, complex and laborious restoration works were carried out, during which the cathedral gained the title of a Site of Cultural Interest.

Preliminary studies made it possible to know the difficulties in the structure, which had led to chronic problems in the stone. The undertaking of the necessary works required a substantial economic investment, destined to the sophisticated and modern instrumentation that would allow the control of the movements of the factories and monitoring the effect of the treatment used. The large scaffolding, both inside and outside, allowed the study of the walls, providing a large amount of information about the construction. For this reason, the Seo of Tarazona is one of the best examples on the international scene when it comes to the knowledge of a factory of these characteristics.

Samples were taken from the walls and vaults that revealed valuable decorative remains, such as the Renaissance pictorial ensemble at the head of the temple and the lantern tower in the dome, and the Gothic paintings on the ambulatory and the main altar. Likewise, they revealed the existence of the original chromatic coating: red lines on a white background that simulate a false cutting of ashlars. The works in the subsoil were fundamental since the water had weakened the foundations, and any intervention could damage the original pavement. Archaeological work has also yielded great finds, consisting of a late Roman necropolis, a public building from the lower imperial period with polychrome mosaics, and the Christian precedents of the cathedral itself.

Finally, we proceeded to work on the failed restorations before the Master Plan, among which the choir stalls, the Plateresque decoration and windows, and the recovery of the 16th-century polychrome alabaster stained glass windows stand out.

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