The castles of Portilla and Lanos de Ocio were important defences due to their strategic location. The castle of Portilla is featured on the coat of arms of Álava/Araba
Strolling through nature among the castles of Zambrana, in the southeastern part of the Añana region, can be considered as one of life’s pleasures. The “Route of the Castles” links the castle of Portilla and the castle of Lanos de Ocio, two points located on craggy trails that provide the hiker with spectacular panoramas.
The most remarkable historical feature of the Castle of Portilla is that it features as an heraldic element on the coat of arms of Araba/Álava.
A 17th century document from a resident of Portilla mentions the heraldic seal of the area, stating that it had been used since the 13th century and the description is very similar to one used for Álava: “A cliff, on its summit a castle tower and at the same height as this, an arm holding an unsheathed sword in its hand. And the foot of the tower, a lion standing on its hind legs reaching towards it”.
The earliest written references date the Castle of Portilla to 1040, however, recent excavations confirm that the site had been occupied since beginning of the Iron Age. The Middle Ages saw great changes, when the castle became a valuable defensive enclave for the Kingdom of Navarre.
Things changed in the 13th century when it became part of the Kingdom of Castile, losing strategic importance when the borders moved further eastward.
Upon reaching the Castle of Portillo visitors can enjoy the remains of the central tower and an underground cistern, along with spectacular views.
For its part, the Castle of Lanos de Ocio partially preserves its castle keep. Built using sandstone and mortar, its barbican (fortified gate) was the main defence for this area in medieval times. It was purely strategic castle, especially during times when the enclave formed part of the border between the Kingdoms of Navarre and Castile.
Open all year round, more information available at the Cuadrilla de Añana Tourist office.
The A-3126 as far as Ocio and then the A-4146 to Portilla