Olvera es un paraíso en el corazón de los Pueblos Blancos. Una ladera de casas encaladas y callejuelas erigida entre olivares y coronada por un exuberante conjunto monumental. Las calles de su Conjunto Histórico, que se retuercen caprichosas en la pendiente del terrero, guardan con firmeza el aroma de las plantas que adornan tapias y ventanas, y que se asoman a contemplar la figura colosal de su Castillo, testigo mudo de nuestra historia. Entre el caserío, diversas iglesias elevan sus torres hacia el cielo, ofreciendo en su conjunto una postal digna de cuento.
Its history is full of unanswered questions, being on the one hand some of the Hippa or Hippo Nova that Plinio mentioned in his ‘History’ and on the other a Roman villa, Ilipiula Minor in the itinerary of Cádiz and Cordoba. It is missing from other publications of the Roman and Visigothic times and reappears in the Muslim chronicles as a border link in the advanced zone of Muslim power in the mountains (Wubira or Uriwila).
The Christian conquest planned in Seville formed part of the strategic advance to the Straits of Gibraltar to prevent the Muslims entering. In an early expedition the Christians lost the Sevillian banner that flew from the castle of Olvera. Ultimately the Muslim garrison couldn’t resist the Christian siege that was supported by ‘war machines and devices’ that frightened the Nasrids. The fortress of Olvera was occupied for the first time by the troops of King Alfonso XI. After the negotiations following the surrender, Ibrahim-ibn-Utmán managed to maintain the rights of the garrison of Olvera and each inhabitant was able to keep their homes and belongings. Occupying the town, the Christians formalized their settlement which was implemented in the ‘Town Charter’ granted on August 1st of that same year. (1327)
The People’s Charter, freed anyone who stayed in the town for a year and a day from debts, threats of imprisonment and even lifted sentences for serious crimes. This was a way of attracting people to the settlement, initially in Olvera, but it was later extended along the entire frontier. In the middle of this century and after the continuous Muslim attacks, the town came to form part of the domain of Don Alfonso Pérez de Guzmán. In 1395 Pérez de Guzmán arranged the marriage of his daughter to the son of Stúñiga (or Zúñiga), promising the town of Olvera as her dowry. In the year 1407 the domain of Olvera was passed to form part of the estate of the Stúñigas. Later it was sold to the Téllez Girón family who later became the Dukes of Osuna and were the ‘Lords’ of the town until the 19th century.
Olvera began the 18th Century with problems derived from the French occupation of the Peninsula. It was host to a detachment of Napoleonic troops who were constantly harassed by guerrilla groups organised in the town and its surroundings until the French retreat in 1812. The century advanced and some of the most important episodes of Spanish history were echoed in Olvera, like the September revolution in 1868 which became known as “la Gloriosa”. After the brief republican period, the return of the monarchy resulted in the formal recognition of the town as a city, a title conceded by Alfonso XII by Royal Decree on 8 May 1877. The years of the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera gave the citizens of Olvera an economic respite as they benefitted from the construction of the Jerez – Almargen railway that ran from east to west of the municipality. The project was never finished.
Today, having overcome the difficulties of the first decades of the 20th century, Olvera continues to be dedicated to agriculture, forestry (!?) and livestock, activities which are increasingly complemented by the exploitation of tourism in the town and its surroundings as well as business cooperatives.
The Historic Old Town
Due to its strategic situation, Olvera has been, since prehistoric times, a site chosen for human settlement. The archaeological remains found in the town and surrounding areas (Sierra de Lijar) attest to this.
It was declared a site of historical interest in 1983, the second declaration of the White Villages after Arcos de la Frontera. The historic centre of Olvera is a beautiful network of streets, buildings and squares, nestled in a cliff, with a medieval air that is a reminder of its Arab era.
Its origin was around the fortress built in the 12th century and from there, following the slope down, the village was built in an irregular framework which today treasures historic houses and ancestral homes, corners, alleys and charming little rocky outcrops. The remains of the old town walls are still preserved and from here you can enjoy unparalleled views of our area.
The origins of the current population of Olvera would seem to be based around the Arab castle and Nasrid period. Built in the twelfth century, with a triangular layout, the fortress rises on the rock with its stone retaining walls, towers and tower of homage. From here and following the contours of the slope, the town is formed giving rise to the square and a whole series of curved and parallel streets with an irregular configuration. A historic hamlet that alternates manor houses, with elegant doorways, with the best examples of popular architecture in the province of Olvera.
Olvera invites you to visit its most distinctive areas through different routes that combine some of the most splendid monuments of its Roman past to the present with great prominence given to its Almohad history.
Located in the heart of the Cadiz mountain range, specifically in the northwest triangle of the Sierra de Cádiz, at a crossroads between the provinces of Cádiz, Málaga and Sevilla. Olvera is a town with Arab roots, declared a Historic-Artistic Site in 1983. It is located at an altitude of 643 m. above sea level and in a mountainous area (Peñón de Zaframagón, Sierra de Lújar, Sierra de las Harinas …), which gives character to its landscape, in which the reddish lands are dotted with patches of scrubland, hills of old olive trees, cereals and stubble. All this relief is crossed by the Guadalporcún and Salado rivers that flow into the Guadalete, the main river of the province.