Top 2023 Travel Guide
Olvera is another one of those fairytale villages that from a distance is spellbinding. As you cross the rugged plains of the Sierra de Cádiz you will at once see, rising up out of the surrounding olive groves, an exquisite white village with a soaring cathedral and castle at its center.
Olvera is yet another chance to go back in time and explore these ancient villages along the now famous "pueblos blancos" route in southern Spain. If you are thinking of visiting some of these beautiful towns, Olvera is one not to miss!
Note: Olvera was even declared as a center of "Artistic and Historic Importance" in 1983 by the Spanish government.
Explore the Village of Olvera - 10 Things to Do and See!
Contents on This Page
- Where is Olvera?
- But First... A Little History
- Best Places to Stay in Olvera
- Best Places to Eat in Olvera
- TOP 10 Things You Must See in Olvera!
- Best Recommended "White Villages" Tours
- "Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos"
- Distances Between Towns & Olvera
- The Best Time to Visit Olvera
- Olvera's Gastronomy
- Olvera's Fiestas
- How to Arrive
Where is Olvera?The Moorish village of Olvera sits at the spot where the provinces of Cádiz, Seville, and Malaga come together. It is in the north west corner of Cádiz and about 50-minutes north of one of Andalucía's most treasured villages, Ronda.
The town rises 643 meters above sea level with extraordinary views of the surrounding mountains, patchwork farmland, and olive plantations.
Olvera is small, so a visit will only take you about half a day.
If you're planning to overnight in one of the villages along the "pueblos blancos" route, Olvera has a few options, but not as many as some of the neighboring towns. You might want to check out the hotels on these pages as well... Grazalema, Zahara de la Sierra & Setenil de las Bodegas.
A Little HistoryLittle is really known about the history of Olvera. It seems we have more questions than answers as to how it came to be.
One thing we do know is that some sort of settlement has existed here for more than two thousand years. And, through relics that have been found locally, we know that human life has been flourishing in this area since Paleolithic times (12,000 years ago!!).
Olvera was definitely inhabited by both the Phoenicians and the Romans. We also know that the Romans called the village "Hippa" or "Hippo Nova" which some argue translates to 'well', 'woodland', or 'olive grove'.
The Moors most likely invaded and moved into the area in the 9th century. They began construction of the town they called "Wubira" or "Uriwila". They would have then remained in the area until conquered by the Christians in 1327.
One interesting fact about Olvera is that a future Mayor of the city of Lima (Peru) was born in here in 1487. Not long after the Christians conquered Olvera, control was given to the Guzman family who had been very active in the defense of Tarifa during the Reconquest. But later, the Duke of Osuna took control of the town and his son (Nicolás de Ribera) was the leader of the Spanish conquest of Peru. Ribera later became mayor of Lima, in 1535.
Best Hotels in OlveraOlvera has fewer hotels than the other "white villages", so if you would like to stay in one of the smaller pueblos blancos try these nearby villages: Grazalema, Zahara de la Sierra & Setenil de las Bodegas. Or try Ronda, the largest and most well-known village in the area.
No 31 Bed & Breakfast - No 31 is a Bed & Breakfast located right in the heart of Olvera. It's located just under the cathedral and has beautiful views of the castle at night. Breakfast is included.
Casa Vagón Vía Verde de la Sierra - This is a neat hotel that is built into a set of old railway cars along the famous Via Verde hiking and cycling route, about 15 minutes from town. This is THE place to stay if you are planning on cycling the Via Verde.
One more option you have is to rent a beautiful villa or country house near Olvera.
Best Restaurants in Olvera
Top Ten Things to See in Olvera, Spain!
The Villa Neighborhood
La Villa is the original Moorish village that included the Cathedral (which was a mosque at the time), the Plaza Iglesia surrounding it, the castle, and the maze of tiny streets just below. During Moorish times the entire population would have resided in this neighborhood, the surrounding areas were undeveloped.
Take a stroll through the narrow streets of this picturesque area. The houses are all whitewashed in the typical Spanish style and adorned with colorful flowers overflowing from their pots. This maze of cobblestone streets winds around in every direction, and reveals glimpses of the magnificent countryside around every corner.
The Arab Castle
The Castle looks just like a castle should, it's built into the highest point of Olvera's craggy cliffs with towers and turrets overlooking the town below.
It was built at the end of the 12th century and was part of an elaborate communication system of watchtowers and castles that protected the western-most part of the Muslim Kingdom. It was in the perfect location between the great strongholds of Seville and Ronda.
** Castle Details - Olvera, Spain
You will find the castle entrance just across the plaza from the church, be aware that it's just a small doorway that is easily missed. Before entering, you must first go to the tourist office (in the corner of the church plaza) and pay the entrance fee of 2.00 euros. Once inside you can explore the entire castle on your own. The highest point is inside the tower and up a spiral staircase to the rooftop terrace. The views from the top are definitely worth the climb.
The Church of Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación
The Church of the Encarnation looks like something you would see in one of Spain's larger cities like Madrid or Barcelona, not in a little village surrounded by countryside for miles and miles. But here it is... and it's glorious!
It's a neo-classical style church built in 1841 on the site of what was once a gothic style church and before that a mosque.
** Church of Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación - Olvera, Spain
Protected by the Castle and soaring cliffs above is the Olvera Parish Cemetery. It has been the burial site for residents going back centuries and is a small site but it has breathtaking views of the mountains and village below.
Back in the day when Olvera was controlled by the Duke of Osuna, La Cilla was used as storage for grains. "La Cilla" actually means grain store. It was also used at one point as a women's prison.
Today La Cilla is the town's museum. It's a collection of small buildings surrounding a small plaza. The tower, which was once a rampart from the castle, is currently being used as an exhibition room.
The Tourist Office is also part of the La Cilla complex.
Ayuntamiento (Town Hall) and City Streets
The Ayuntamiento (Town Hall) is just at the bottom of the steps from the Plaza de Iglesia. The original town hall was built in 1783 but was later demolished. The current building was constructed in the 20th century.
From the Town Hall take a walk down the street into town. There are numerous cafes, bars, and restaurants along the way.
Ayuntamiento (Town Hall) - 956 130 011
Monday - Friday: 7:30 am - 3:00 pm
Peñon del Sagrado Corazon
Leaving the "La Villa" area and heading down into town you will find the Peñon del Sagrado Corazon about mid-way down the street on your right.
** Peñon del Sagrado Corazon - Olvera, Spain
If you're ready for another climb, start up the stairway on the far end of the Plaza de Andalucía. The Peñon (or rock) is a hanging garden that has been a local gathering spot for centuries. The stairs wind up and around in every direction, covered in ivy and full of lush plants and flowers all the way to the top.
Once you've reached the small terrace at the top, you will find the statue of "The Sacred Heart of Jesus" and beautiful views back towards the church and castle. This is the perfect spot to take a photo of Olvera from a distance.
Via Verde de la Sierra
If you're up for an adventure, the Via Verde (or green way) is fantastic! It's a 38 km award winning hiking / bicycling route along an old abandoned rail line that once connected Olvera with Puerto Serrano.
Why is it abandoned? In the 1920's General Rivera decided to build a rail line between the towns of Almargen and Jerez de la Frontera, Olvera was supposed to be the main stop in-between. The bridges, viaducts, and tunnels were all finished but the rail lines were never completed, the project stalled and remained in a state of disrepair for years.
Today the Via Verde is flourishing and becoming one of the most hiked and cycled routes in Andalucía. Most of the path is flat with visitors going over bridges and through tunnels and stopping at rail-side restaurants along the way. There are even two hotels along the route (one on either end).
You can also stop to visit the Peñon de Zaframagon Nature Reserve which is home to Andalucía's largest Griffon (vulture) colony along this portion of the Via Verde.
Santuario de los Remedios
This is a pretty little chapel just 2 km outside the town of Olvera that is dedicated to the Virgen of the Remedies. On the second Monday after Easter all the towns people come to the church to give a blessing and have a picnic together under the olive trees.
Lavadero de Pino
This quaint little washing house has been used by the local women for centuries. They carried their clothes all the way from Olvera (2 km away) and spent the day washing and chatting. At the time, the basins were fed by a local spring. But today, the lavadero de Pino is no longer in use.
Visit the El Saldo Olive Oil Factory
** El Saldo Olive Oil Factory - Olvera, Cádiz
Olive oil is an important commodity in Olvera, as it is in much of Andalucia... and all of Spain. This region, especially the province of Cadiz, is famous for its extensive olive groves that stretch out in every direction, creating a stunning natural landscape.
Olive oil tourism is also becoming increasingly popular. You can tour olive groves, visit oil mills, learn about the production process, participate in tastings and buy locally produced oils. This not only provides a unique experience, but also helps the local economy.
While in Olvera, visit the "El Saldo" mill... it has been producing extra virgin olive oil since 1715. You will find it surrounded by ancient olive groves on the right bank of the El Saldo river along the well-known Vía Verde de la Sierra. It's a great place to pick up some local olive oil to share with friends!
The Cats Cave near Olvera
** The Cats Cave - Olvera, Cádiz
"Cueva del Gato (Cave of the Cat) is a spectacular cave system located near the city of Ronda (about 45 minutes from Olvera). The cave takes its name from the shape of its entrance... which resembles a cat's face.
This extensive cave system is part of the Hundidero-Gato complex, one of the most important karst formations in Andalucia. It's an interconnected underground system that is about 8 kilometers long, making it one of the longest in Spain. The cave is famous for its natural beauty, with several halls featuring stalactites, stalagmites and other interesting geological features.
The area around the cave is a beautiful spot for hiking, swimming and picnicking, with the natural pool at the entrance to the cave a very popular destination, especially in the summer.
The Surrounding Countryside
Once you've visited the Santuario de los Remedios, head towards the town of Setenil de las Bodegas (another fantastic white village along the route). The surrounding countryside changes yet again and you will find yourself driving lower and lower into a deep ravine.
In Setenil de las Bodegas all the homes are built into caves....
Olvera Tourist Information
Oficina de Información Turística - Edificio la Cilla, Plaza de la Iglesia - 956 120 816
10:30 am – 2 pm, and 4 pm – 6.30 pm
10:30 am – 2 pm, and 4 pm – 7.30 pm
Ayuntamiento (Town Hall) - 956 130 011
Monday - Friday: 7:30 am - 3:00 pm
BEST Recommended Tours to the "Pueblos Blancos" and OlveraTraveling to the famous Pueblos Blancos in southern Spain by car is the preferred way to see the area. The landscape surrounding each of the villages is stunning...
If you don't have a car and are interested in seeing a few of these charming villages, you can either rent one or join a tour leaving from Ronda or one of the larger cities like Malaga, Sevilla, or Cádiz.
Discover these other unique excursions and experiences near Olvera and Ronda.
Other Important Information You Should Know About Olvera
1. Olvera is One of the Famous Villages on the "Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos"
The White Towns of Andalucia, or Pueblos Blancos, are a series of towns and large villages in the northern part of the provinces of Cádiz in southern Spain, many within the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park.
Other villages on this route are: Casares, Zahara de la Sierra, Mijas Pueblo, Villaluenga del Rosario, Benaocaz, Ubrique, Benamahoma, El Bosque, Prado del Rey, Puerto Serrano, Algodonales, El Gastor, Setenil de las Bodegas, Alcalá del Valle, Torre Alhaquime, Grazalema, Arcos de la Frontera, Algar, Espera, Bornos and Villamartín, Vejer de la Frontera and Frigiliana.
2. Distances to Other Important Towns:
Larger Cities / Towns
Malaga; 122 km / 1 hr 37 min
Cádiz: 127 km / 1 hr 27 min
Sevilla: 103 km / 1 hr 26 min
Ronda: 52 km / 50 min
Other Smaller White Villages
Jerez de la Frontera: 96 km / 1 hr 13 min
Villamartín: 47 km / 40 min
Zahara de la Sierra: 28 km / 30 min
Grazalema: 40 km / 44 min
3. When is the Best Time to Visit Olvera?
- During the months of April, May and October you are most likely to experience good weather with pleasant average temperatures that fall between 20 degrees Celsius (68°F) and 25 degrees Celsius (77°F).
- On average, the warmest month(s) are July and August, with July being the hottest.
- The months of January, February, March, April, August, September and October have a high chance of precipitation, with November being the wettest.
- On average, the coolest month is January.
- June is the driest month.
The gastronomy of Olvera is based around its pure olive oil, which flows from its many olive groves. There are many flavors and varieties.
Other popular dishes are: "dough cakes" dipped in honey, homemade liver sausage, traditional "pegás soups" with wild asparagus, tomato soups, stuffed sirloin, "rice with rabbit", and "scrambled eggs". For dessert, "porridge" is enjoyed.
There are several fiestas that standout in Olvera that are worth enjoying.
San José - March 19th - This holiday has been celebrated for more than 200 years. Each year the locals go out in a procession through the streets with an image of the saint and ending with a mass at 6 pm.
San Agustín - August - A few days of fun with celebrations of all kinds, such as bullfighting, music, and dancing. Its origins date back to the year 1710 when King Felipe V granted this celebration in return for the services provided to him by his citizens.
Quasimodo Monday Pilgrimage - Second Monday after Easter - Another very popular pilgrimage during which the towns people meet in the Santuario de los Remedios to give thanks to the virgin. A custom dating from the eighteenth century when the people suffered a severe drought and asked the virgin for rain... rain came... and now they say thank you every year with this procession.
6. How To Arrive
From Ronda: Follow A-374 and Carr. de Antequera / A-384 to Olvera.
From Cádiz: Take AP-4, A-382, A-384 and Carr. de Antequera to Olvera.
Most of the designated parking is at the bottom of town and you will have to walk up. You can park along the street on Calle Belavista and in a car park on Calle Vereda Ancha.
There is another car park beside the swimming pool on Avenida Manuel de Falla.
That about covers it for now! This should be all you need for a great day in Olvera!! Have a safe trip!! ;-)
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