Labraza Complex of Historical Monuments
Labraza is a walled medieval village located at 677 meters above sea level.
It is the smallest fortified town in the Basque Country and, according to some experts, one of the best preserved in the world, as recognized in 2008, receiving the World Walled Town of the year Award
Every three years the Executive Board of the International Circle of Walled Cities grants this award to innovative projects concerning the management, preservation and restoration of this type of historical fortification, and decided to award the preservation plan, managed by the Provincial Council of Álava, for the walled village of Labraza.
The settlement and the very structure of its defensive complex make it one of the strongest military style towns in the area. Nonetheless, it is a small, sparsely populated territory which, for strategic and military reasons, acquired a distinct political personality. Concern over the fortification of the town was constant.
The Royal Charter granted to Labraza in 1196 by Sancho VII represented an accolade with regard to the centralization of the territory in favour of the terms of the old village of Labraza and to the detriment of the other villages. Its entry into the Brotherhood of Álava did not take place until the 14th August, 1501.
From its dominant position between the streams Labraza and Valdevarón – which form two deep ravines – the town commands an unrivalled panoramic view over basin of the river Ebro.
In 1977 the municipality was incorporated under the jurisdiction of the Oyón-Oion Town Council. Nowadays, Labraza is an acropolis surrounded by walls save, for the moment, the main entrance to the town. Accordingly, the village is structured around three narrow streets, with passageways and small squares. The houses, renovated or in ruins, date mostly from the 16th century, Renaissance style, and still conserve their underground cellars.
We can see how several of the present houses are, in fact, the fortified towers of the old wall, reused for their sturdy stone work as buildings for the residents of the town.
From an urban morphology standpoint, the town presents the typical image of many medieval villages where the military purpose justifies this appearance of an imposing fortress, reinforced in this case by a superb fortified wall that has been well preserved into the present day. So, despite its size, Labraza today houses a rich heritage, with four towers, a fortress, battlements, secret passageways and tunnels, loopholes, allures, etc., all the typical components for lovers of the Medieval.
Entering through the south gate in the walled enclosure, takes you to the church of San Miguel, whose Gothic walls form part of the defensive structure. It is interesting to view the 14th century Fuente del Moro (fountain of the Moor), inside which is a spout decorated with a Gothic face that gives it its name. This fountain dug, into the south slope of the wall, had a secret passageway through which the inside of the town could be accessed.
Finally, in the immediate surroundings, it is possible to visit the Pinar de Dueñas, the westernmost Aleppo pine forest in Europe.
Labraza is located in the far southeast of Euskadi, on the last foothills of the Sierra de Cantabria mountain range.
The best way to get there from Vitoria-Gasteiz, is through the Álava mountains, via the mountain pass of Bernedo: first take the A-2124, which forks off to Bernedo at Ventas de Armentia. From here, after crossing through the Navarre village of Lapoblación, you go back into Álava and reach Labraza. From Logroño, head towards Oyón-Oion via the A-4203 or the N-111. At the Oyón-Oion crossroad, take the A-3226 to Moreda where it links up with the A-3230. The fortified village is reached by turning right onto the A-4211 at the first crossroad.
Distance from the municipal capital to Vitoria-Gasteiz: 65 km. Distance to the seat of the judicial district: 22 km. Nearest train station, Logroño, 11 km away A local road links up with Moreda de Álava, which in turn connects to the N-III Logroño-Estella. There is also another local road that links the village of Barriobusto.