Alma Mater Museum

The Alma Mater MuseumThroughout a series of spaces, previously known as “The Houses of the Bishop”, a residence of saints, popes, bishops and monarchs of Aragon, a dual route is proposed, which permits discovering the history of the Church of Zaragoza and the most important historical spaces of Aragonese history. The visit is supported by a series of innovative video-maps that are projected onto the old building and that provide a new concept of what a diocesan museum should be in this case backed by several national awards. The first documentary – projected onto the walls and ceiling of the XV century Gothic Room – shows us what the Arrival and presence of Mary of Nazareth on the banks of the Ebro river must have been like, that night of the 2nd of January of the year 40, supporting the first Christian community of the city. A second video – generating an eye-catching show on the XVI century Renaissance chapel – helps us discover the history of the diocese in the voices of bishops, such as St. Valero, St. Braulio or Hernando de Aragon. And a third parting video, tells us about the message of the blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI about the importance of Art and the greatness of the Creation.

Together with a considerable repertoire of images of the Virgin of the Pilar, the first floor of the museum shows the birth of the first Christian communities in Aragon, with their important artistic and archaeological testimonies that tell us about martyrs such as St. Engracia, St. Vicente and the so-called Innumerable Martyrs of Zaragoza, who gave encouragement to Spanish Christianity.

The space dedicated to the first bishops, like St. Braulio, who laid the foundations for the Visigoth and Spanish cultures, leads to the XII century Romanesque tower that houses an outstanding collection of images of the Virgin, in both Romanesque and Gothic style. The second floor houses the spaces of the XIV century Mudejar palace of the monarchs of Aragon, where the splendour of the liturgy around the idea of Christ as Saviour is displayed. After contemplating the Crown Room, with its Mudejar coffered ceiling, which houses a collection of Gothic paintings, the evolution of Mediaeval, Renaissance and Baroque religiousness is displayed, through important works of the Diocesan artistic heritage. This includes the reconstruction of an exceptional Eucharistic Altar, with silverwork, ornaments and relics, or the avant-garde design of a procession that offers all types of monstrances from the XV to the XVII centuries.

The Hall of Bishops and the Throne Room can be visited on the third floor, the Renaissance palace built by Hernando de Aragon, grandson of Ferdinand, the Catholic monarch. The Throne Room, presided by the seat of honour used by the blessed John Paul II during his visit to Zaragoza, houses the famous portrait gallery of the archbishops with works by such famous artists as Bayeu, Goya or sister Isabel Guerra. The grandiosity of the Room is complemented with that of the imperial staircase of the neoclassical palace, built in the XVIII century to give work in a period of severe crisis. All of these spaces, more than six thousand square metres, were opened in March 2011 and are completed with a room with temporary exhibitions.

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