This imposing gateway is extremely well conserved and was the most important in the mediaeval walls which protected the old centre of the town of Zamora, which was also known by the name of 'la bien cercada' (the well-defended').
The mediaeval walls of Zamora comprise three successive enclosures (11th-13th centuries). This gateway of San Bartolomé (–also called Zambranos or Doña Urraca) belongs to the third of these (13th century). The most outstanding features to be seen on the exterior are two large round towers made from solid stone slabs flanking the entrance, in a continuous semicircular archway. It is popularly known as the 'Doña Urraca gateway' thanks to a legend described in the epic poem called the 'Romancero del Cerco de Zamora'. King Alfonso VI 'the Brave' of León (1065-1109) had ceded the governance of Zamora to his elder sister Doña Urraca. There she withstood the siege (1072) to which for many years she was subjected by another brother, King Sancho II 'the Strong' of Castile (1065-1072), with the help of 'El Cid Campeador'. According to the 'Romancero', this was the gateway from which Doña Urraca implored El Cid to abandon the siege.