OLIVENZA Church of Santa María del Castillo


The present-day church was built on the site of the first Oliventine church, dating from the 13th century. This church was built between 1584 and 1627 and is the work of André de Arenas, as can be read on the inscription on its tower.


The tower-façade is made of ashlar masonry, divided into three sections, at the base of which stands the doorway of the church with its semi-circular arch, and its keystone in the form of an acanthus leaf, flanked by Roman Doric columns with decorative festoons at the top of the shaft. Both columns stand upon a rectangular base where a two-headed eagle is visible on a terrestrial sphere. Above the columns there is an entablature at the ends of which, and on the same line as the columns, there are two empty niches. Above the door, the large flared rosette stands out, reproducing the keystone motif seen above the door. Further up, a new cornice outlines the separation of the second and third sections. In this shorter third section, there is a window that is topped with a rounded segment. The tower is crowned by the belfry, which has two openings with a semi-circular arch on each side. In the middle of the 19th century, the upper corners were adorned with Oliventine ceramics by the master José Carapeto.


The interior layout of this temple displays a late-renaissance style and has the characteristics of the so-called "hall churches" because it has three naves of the same height. The simplicity of the late Renaissance layout is contrasted by the later additions of tiles and altarpieces.

As for the tiles, there are panels from the 17th century, predominantly of the "maçaroca" type, in the side naves. On the upper altar, we can see tiles from the 18th century depicting motifs of Joshua: the battle of Jericho and the defence of Gibeon.

The altarpiece in this temple offers magnificent examples, including the Baroque gilded carving (1723) characteristic of the reign of D. João V and the spectacular Tree of Jesse, the largest of those that remain. This is the most remarkable altarpiece in Olivenza. Made of carved and multi-coloured wood with a height of 10.29m, it represents the family tree of Mary and Jesus, a motif inspired by the prophecy of Isaiah: "a branch will grow out of the trunk of Jesse", known in the History of Art since the 12th century, abandoned in Europe as a consequence of the Reformation and taken up again in the Iberian Peninsula with even greater vigour during the Counter-Reformation. Beneath its roots lies Jesse, the father of David. From him, there is a robust trunk with six branches on which appear the figures, in this case unidentified, of twelve kings of the house of Judah. The tree is topped by a mandorla that contains the image of Madonna and Child. The date and signature that appear in its base, "Reno 1774", correspond to one of its previous restorations, since the carving is not from the end of the 18th century, but much earlier. In the year 2010 a complete restoration was carried out that removed some added elements, such as the painting that covered the bottom, the crown of the Virgin and the sceptres of the kings.


Opening hours

Tuesday to Saturday: 10:00-13:30 and 17:00-19:00

Friday: 10:00-13:30

Monday: closed


Tuesday to Saturday: 10:00-13:30 and 16:00-18:00

Sunday: 10:00-13:30

Monday: closed


0034 924 490 018