The Castillo de Portillo is a well-preserved medieval castle in Portillo; the earliest elements of its present construction date to the fifteenth century. The site has been fortified since the tenth century, when it is documented in connection with Moorish forays into the region, under Abd al-Rahman III. In the fourteenth century, and until the early fifteenth, it was in the possession of the family of Sandoval; in 1392 it was confiscated from Diego Gómez de Sandoval in the name of King Juan II of Castile, who granted it in 1438 to Ruy Díaz de Mendoza.
From 1448 to 1452, Portillo was occasionally held by Juan's favourite, Don Álvaro de Luna, although the fortress remained in royal hands. Don Álvaro, however, fell from favor, and was detained at Burgos, sent to Portillo until two months later he was tried at Valladolid, and subsequently beheaded in the main Plaza on 2 June 1453. In 1464 Enrique IV of Castile conferred it upon Alfonso, held in trust by Juan Pacheco, the prince's tutor, until his death (1474), though it had been ceded to Rodrigo Alfonso de Pimentel, whose heirs held it until the nineteenth century, when it passed to the family of Osuna.
As the history above indicates, Portilla is better known for the list of distinguished prisoners it has housed, than for being the site of battles or other events. Juan II of Castille was briefly imprisoned at Portillo in 1444 by the Conde de Castro, escaping by bribing one of his guardians. The chronicles also touch upon the fact that Don Enrique, brother of the admiral Don Fabrique y de Suero de Quiñones (who fought at Paso Honroso) was jailed here for conspiring against the crown.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).