What to see in Olivenza


The main monuments what to see in Olivenza They are linked to its peculiar and eventful history. Border territory of the eastern peninsula, it has belonged to both Spain as Portugal over time.

It passed into the hands of the latter in 1297 by Treaty of Alcañices, but returned to our country after the Iberian Union of 1580. Already in 1640, this group was broken, it returned to Portugal to be returned, definitively, to Spain after the call orange war of 1801. Monuments and places of interest have remained from all of this in this beautiful town in the province of Badajoz. Next, we are going to show them to you.

The castle and other military buildings

Olivenza Castle

One of the main monuments to see in Olivenza is its castle

El olivenza castle It was built at the beginning of the 14th century by order of Don Alfonso IV on the remains of a previous fortress. But I would be the king Juan II who would give it the appearance it has today, turning it into a perfect example of military architecture of the time.

It has a trapezoidal shape, with a patio in the center and three cubic towers at its corners, in addition to the tribute. This, with its thirty-seven meters, was, in its time, the highest in Portugal and has machicolations on its flanks. You can climb to the top to get wonderful views of the city of Olivenza and its surroundings. In addition, the castle houses the González Santana Ethnographic Museum.

They are also part of the military heritage to see in Olivenza the medieval walls and bastions, More modern. The first were built in the 13th century and preserve two of their doors: those of Alcochel and Los Angeles. As for the bastion, it was built in the 17th century and is very well preserved, as shown by its monumental Calvary gate.

The Gate of Calvary

A front view of the imposing Calvary Gate

This was made with marble ashlars and has a semicircular voussoir arch on which there is a triangular pediment. In the center of it you can see a motif with the royal crown on the coat of arms of Portugal and at the bottom a calvary.

On the other hand, as a result of the military importance of Olivenza, they were also built in the town barracks to house the troops. Among them, that of San Carlos, which stands out for its enormous buttresses and its neoclassical lines, and that of Cavalry, which dates, like the previous one, from the 18th century. Likewise, as surveillance places, several watchtowers in the surroundings of the town. For example, those of Moitas, San Amaro and Arrifes.

Finally, the King's Bakery It is, as its name indicates, the place where bread was made for the soldiers. It also dates back to the 18th century and you will find it, with its neoclassical lines, next to the castle grounds and the medieval wall. Currently, it also serves as the headquarters of the aforementioned González Santana Museum.

The churches of Santa María del Castillo and Magdalena

Santa Maria del Castillo

Santa María del Castillo Church.

Regarding religious heritage, the first thing to see in Olivenza is the church of Santa María del Castillo, so called because it is located within its enclosure. It was built at the end of the 16th century with a project Andre de Arenas. Externally, its large rose window and the bell tower stand out, which, already in the 19th century, was decorated with ceramics from the area. As for the interior, it shows features of the late Renaissance and its tiles painted with biblical motifs and its spectacular altarpieces stand out, especially the one in the Jesse tree.

For its part, the church of the madeleine It was built in the 16th century and responds to the Manueline style. As you know, this name is given to the one created in Portugal starting from late Gothic and adding ornamental and naturalistic elements. Therefore, both externally and internally, it has a magnificent exuberance. Its great promoter was the bishop of Ceuta, Friar Henrique of Coimbra, which is buried in it.

Other religious monuments to see in Olivenza

Convent of San Juan de Dios in Olivenza

Convent of San Juan de Dios

You should also visit the convent of San Juan de Dios, which stands out for its white lime façade, the slate jambs of its doors and the neoclassical façade of its chapel. Inside, you should look at the main altar of a dressing room type and the fresco paintings. In addition, today it is home to museums and the city's tourist office.

Furthermore, the Holy House of Mercy It was built at the beginning of the 16th century. The most spectacular thing about the set is the chapel, all of it decorated with historic tiles due to Manuel dos Santos. Also from the 16th century is the convent of San FranciscoWhile hermitage of the Immaculate It has uncertain origins.

More unique is the history of the Chapel of the Miracle of Rice. According to legend, through the intermediation of San Juan Macías, the food offered to the poor in that place multiplied. To commemorate it, this chapel was built above the kitchen where the miracle occurred. In fact, the altar is a charcoal stove similar to the one used for cooking and a tile panel represents the story.

But the most characteristic of the religious architecture to see in Olivenza are the so-called Steps of the Sacred Way. They are small altars that are found on the facades of some houses as stations or, precisely, steps. Likewise, they are a symbol of the importance of Holy Week in the town, which dates back to the 18th century. Currently, five of them are preserved: those on Santa Lucía, Caridad and Ramón y Cajal streets; the one on the promenade of Portugal y the one in the Plaza de Santa María.

The Municipal Palace and other civil monuments

city ​​Hall

Palace of the Dukes of Cadaval with its Manueline style door

Also called palace of the Dukes of Cadaval, the palace was built in the mid-15th century leaning on the wall. On its façade, which is structured on two floors, what stands out above all is the Manueline style door, which has become a symbol of the city. Likewise, at the top, you should look at the lattice openings and the continuous balcony.

Previous is the Town Hall Clock Tower, since it dates back to 1460. It has a hexagonal plan with openings in its upper part. Likewise, the pinnacle that tops it is hexagonal and, in turn, is crowned by a weather vane.

Very different is the Marzal mansion, which was built in the 18th century and responds to the Pombaline style. As you also know, this owes its name to the Marquis of Pombal, who directed the reconstruction of Portugal after the great Lisbon earthquake of 1755. Therefore, it presents functional and sober features that combine neoclassical elements with some Rococo decoration.

Finally, the former Agrarian Chamber It responds to the modernist variant called Viennese secessionism and characterized by its geometric shapes. On the other hand, the house that you can see on José Moreno Nieto street is purely modernist.

The Ajuda Bridge

Ajuda Bridge

Ajuda Bridge, another symbol to see in Olivenza

Although it is in ruins, you can still see many of its arches. It was built at the beginning of the 16th century by order of the king Manuel I of Portugal. In its time, it was a magnificent work of engineering, more than four hundred and fifty meters long, five meters wide and nineteen rounded arches supported by buttresses.

Likewise, as a defensive element it has a tower next to the sixth arch on the right bank. Set on large rocks, it has three floors with windows. Due to the force of the Guadiana River, the bridge was losing consistency, but it was definitively ruined in the War of succession, when the Marquis de Bay ordered its central arches to be blown up.

The natural environment, another wonder to see in Olivenza

Alor Mountains

Sierra de Alor, one of the natural jewels of Olivenza

If the monuments to see in Olivenza are beautiful, the surroundings of the town are no less beautiful. Its main elevation is Alor Mountains, with just over six hundred meters of altitude. Through it you can make different hiking trails and observe golden and Bonelli's eagles, black storks or passing geese. As for the flora, you will enjoy delicious aromas such as oregano, mint or thyme. But also the one that offers you flowers like the roses of Alexandria, which reach their splendor in the month of April.

On the other hand, in alqueva Do you have the largest artificial lake in Europe, with an area of ​​250 square kilometers. In view of this information, it will not surprise you that this reservoir bathes both the waters of Portugal and Spain and, in our country, the municipalities of Alconchel, Táliga, Cheles and Villanueva del Fresno, plus Olivenza.

In total, it offers you 1160 kilometers of coastline where you can take a swim. But you also have the option of practicing all kinds of water sports and boat excursions (its maximum depth is 152 meters). Even if you dare to do the latter, you will be able to see archaeological sites in the area with dolmens.

Museums in Olivenza

Plaza of Spain

Plaza de España in Olivenza

The town also has interesting museums. To the already mentioned González Santana, of an ethnographic type, adds those of Olivenza Space, about the history of the area; he Medieval Graffiti Interpretation Center; the Great Lake Alqueva Visitor Reception Center, as well as the Don José Hidalgo Parish Schools.

But, without a doubt, the most curious is the Papercraft Museum. As you know, this name is given to a craft technique consisting of creating sculptures with paper. This is cut out by hand and glued to form the figure. Along with this Olivenza exhibition, which has some seven hundred pieces and ranges from reproductions of monuments to animals, there is only one other in Europe.

In conclusion, we have shown you the most important what to see in Olivenza. However, the historic town of Estremadura It also offers you other attractions. For example, your tasty food, with dishes like tomato soup, lamb meat stew or the papillonia carp. Come and get to know this beautiful town in Badajoz.

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