OLIVENZA Church of Santa María Magdalena


A church dating from the first half of the 16th century, built to serve as a temple worthy of the place of residence of the bishops of Ceuta. From 1512 the bishops of Ceuta resided in Olivenza, the first being Fray Enrique de Coimbra, confessor for King D. Manuel and the first to celebrate mass in Brazil. He died the 24th of September 1532 in Olivenza and was buried in this temple. His remains rest in a simple marble tomb, in the apse chapel on the Gospel side.

For the construction of the church, a new tax was introduced called Renta de la Imposición, which taxed the sale of fish, meat and oil.


Built in the Manueline style, which stems from late Gothic and is notable for its decorative and naturalistic character, where there is no lack of marine elements.

On the outside, there are false battlements, pinnacles, gargoyles, side doors and the main door, with added decoration, attributed to Nicolas de Chanterenne. This French artist produced other important works in Portugal, such as the door of the Hieronymites Monastery in Lisbon or a marble altarpiece in the Pena Palace in Sintra, as well as other works in the Alentejo.

The structure of this decoration is arranged around the entrance, with a semi-circular arch. On both sides, in the lower part, four rectangular supports protrude in a flared structure. Atop the two inner supports there are two pairs of narrow columns with smooth shafts.


What most overwhelms the visitor is its vast interior, both robust and sensual, divided into three naves by eight impressive spiral columns that seem to evoke the mooring ropes of a ship. Given the great resemblance of this temple to the Church Nossa Senhora da Assunção, (the old cathedral in Elvas) which King D. Manuel ordered to be built in 1516 by the master Martim Lourenço (master of Ayuda Bridge), the Magdalena of Olivenza can also be attributed to this builder, who created this magical space where the spirit is enveloped by a movement that is simultaneously peaceful. It also features 18th century gilded altarpieces, neoclassical altarpieces in coloured marble and historic tiles.


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 924 490 185