Olvera is a town in the province of Cádiz, Andalusia, Spain. According to the 2005 census, the city has a population of 8,585 inhabitants.

Olvera from its castle
Historical populationYearPop.±% 19998,818—     20008,685−1.5% 20018,538−1.7% 20028,614+0.9% 20038,584−0.3% 20048,549−0.4% 20058,585+0.4%Source: INE (Spain)

There is a lack of specific data and studies into the true origin of the town. This means it is of conjecture to historians, some thinking that the present city was an establishment named Caricus, about the time of the Celts. Professor Ramos Santana posits that the legendary Cenosia, the original name of Olvera, located near the present city centre, was known as Vallehermoso (beautiful valley), existing at the time of the Visigoths.

In this area of the mountain range of Sierra de Lijar are numerous Roman camps and remains. The archaeologist Lorenzo Perdigones' report (1986) shows the existence of a Roman establishment in the area, dated the end of 3rd century B.C. Indeed, the foundations of the city castle were found to be Roman, during the removal of some of the rubble. The original name of Olvera could be "Ilipa", (established by geographically adjusting in a map of Roman Spain, published in 1879, between Morón and Ronda). Hippa and Hippo Nova are likely names of the original village.

But the first demonstrably reliable origin of Olvera is within Muslim documentation, in the mid 12th Century, when it is chronicled as an outpost in the mountains called "WUBIRA" or "URIWILA" (year 1327) when king Alfonso XI wrested it from the Arabs. As part of the Christian conquest plans emanating from Seville, Olvera formed part of the advance strategy towards the Straits of Gibraltar to prevent the reinsurgence of Muslims. In one first expedition the Christians lost the banner of Seville that flew in Olvera castle. After the negotiations that followed the surrender of the town, Ibrahim-ibn-Utmain secured concessions, in respect of the Moors of Olvera, that each one of the inhabitants could keep their houses and goods.

The village was repopulated through a decree, a 'Letter of Population', issued on the 1 of August 1327, in which all criminals and debtors could, and had to, remain a year within the borders of Nazarí (Granada province?) in order that their debt to society be removed. This new acquisition for the King of Castilla was named Olivera to commemorate the sea of olive trees that surround it. With time, the "i" was phonetically lost giving rise to the present name.

In the middle of the 14th century the town passed to Don Alfonso Perez de Guzman. It is known that in 1395 Perez de Guzman arranged the marriage of his daughter with the son of the Muslim, Zunigaga.

Olvera was host to a detachment of Napoleonic troops, who were constantly harassed by the activities of guerrillas from the town until the French retreated in 1812.

Subsequently, two stately houses had the dominion over Olvera, the last of which was Tellez Giron and the Dukes of Osuna. The later was the feudal lord until 1843, when the family went bankrupt.

Some of the advances and episodes of great importance in Spanish history during the 19th century were echoed in Olvera, for instance the revolution of September 1868, (known as 'The Glorious One'), when (after a brief period as a Republic) the Monarchy granted Olvera, by Royal Decree on 8 May 1877, the title of "City" by Alfonso XII, in gratitude for certain horses that sped him from the town of Olvera to one of the Carlist wars.

The years of the dictatorship of Franco provided opportunities for the Olvereños, who benefited from the building of the Jerez-Almargen railroad which terminated within the municipality. The project was never finished. This is now a well known "Via Verde" - a nature walk of some 40 km.

In 1983 Olvera was declared “A Protected Area of Artistic and Historical Importance”.

At the present time, Olvera is dedicated to agriculture, forestry and animal husbandry, activities that are complemented by the tourist activities and the cooperatives.starting in Olvera and reaching Puerto Serrano.

Nicholas de Ribera, El Viejo, 'the old one', was born in Olvera in 1487 and took part in the conquest of Peru. In 1535 he was named the first mayor of Lima.

Photographies by:
Tomas Fano - CC BY-SA 2.0
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