Olivenza Tourist Attractions
26km/16mi south of Badajoz on C 436 is Olivenza (alt. 160m/525ft), a little walled town with handsome town gates. It belonged to Portugal until 1801, when it finally passed to Spain as a result of the "Orange War". Its long allegiance to Portugal is reflected in the predominance of the Manueline style (named after Manuel I of Portugal, who reigned 1495-1521), otherwise rarely found in Spain. The Manueline style combines Moorish and Late Gothic elements with early Renaissance features, and incorporates porates a variety of decorative forms derived from the Portuguese conquests in America and Asia (exotic plants, corals, shells) and seafaring symbols like ropes and knots.
Santa María Magdalena
A good example of the Manueline style in Olivenza is the 16th century church of Santa María Magdalena, with ribbed vaulting borne on columns resembling ships' ropes. The sumptuous high altar is Baroque.
Santa María del Castillo
The church of Santa María del Castillo, near the castle, has a Gothic winged altar depicting the genealogy of the Virgin in the left hand apse. The right hand side altar is in Manueline style.
Close by the Santa María del Castillo is the massive keep (1488) of the castle, the origins of which go back to 1306. It now houses the Museo Municipal, the only museum on the ethnography of Extremadura.
Santa Casa de Misericordia
This old hospital, just outside the town walls at the Puerta de los Angeles, is notable for its chapel, lavishly decorated with azulejos (glazed tiles).
The doorway of the Municipal Library is another good example of the Manueline style, with two carved stone armillary spheres, symbolizing Portugal's status as a seafaring nation and a world power.
Oliva de la Frontera
From Olivenza, C 436 continues by way of Villanueva del Fresno, with a ruined castle and the Convento de la Luz, to Oliva de la Frontera, where the palace of the Dukes of Gandía is worth a visit.