The situation of Montañana, the layout and earliest remains, the Mora tower, show the military origins of the town as an advance post in the expansion of the Christian kingdoms. An early watchtower and beacon, with its chapel, gave protection to the people settling there while the frontier was disputed with the Moors of the south and the Christian lords.
To find out more about these turbulent times, the trip to Montañana could be extended to several towns nearby that also preserve interesting remains of castles and forts: Vicacamp, Luzás and Benabarre.
Going back along the main road, Viacampstretches up to the castle of Via Campano, starting from the line of defence towers built by Ramiro I in 1061, which gave the village its name. It was part of a system of several watchtowers on high places, with visual contact among them, so the fortifications of Chiriveta and Falls can also be seen.
There are some remains of the walls and the old church, although the main feature is the impressive circular tower, now carefully restored, in which the stonemasons of Ribagorza used the techniques introduced by the Lombard masons in the castle.
The building is over 20 m tall, supported by 2 m thick walls at the bottom. It follows the traditional style of defence constructions and is accessed from a high door. Inside, you can visit the living quarters floor as well as the defence floor, which originally would have had a wooden roof.
Don’t miss the toilet on the entrance floor, and the chapel which was created by opening a small apse in the wall on the defence floor.
Luzás. This one has a pentagonal floor on the outside and square inside, with two rows of arrowslits as the most interesting feature.
The remains show that the original site had a trapezoid walled area around the tower, with a semicircular tower at each corner, with only the bases of two remaining. The tower is 25 m high, with six inner floors entered from the third one, which would have had a wooden platform in the past. Like Viacamp, there was a toilet on the entrance floor and a small chapel on the defence floor.
The tower was completed by the 12th-century church of San Cristóbal, combining styles from Jaca and Lombardy, similar to the Alaón monastery. The church has three naves, with the tower and chapels on the north wall added centuries later. The door on the south wall has a cross surrounded by allegorical motifs and inscriptions on the Apocalypse.
Benabarre, the historical capital of La Ribagorza, also grew up around its castle, originally a Moorish fort, conquered by Ramiro 1 in 1058. The houses stretch up the hillside, with picturesque streets, porches and passages.
The monument forms a rectangular shape, with two stepped enclosures with remains dating back to different eras. The upper area has walls dating from the Romanesque times as well as remains of a square tower, possibly of Moorish origins. And the inner enclosure includes a Gothic church with foundations from and early church built there in the 11th century.