The convent of Our Lady of the Conception was originally founded as a convent of the Clarisas, on the initiative of Leonor Velha, who made the first donation. Its original construction, which endured several setbacks, was delayed for nearly a century (1556-1631). However, because of the war and the need to better protect Olivenza, the new wall ended up occupying part of the convent's land, thus leaving the building itself enclosed in one of the bastions. Therefore, the first Franciscan community of Clarisas had to abandon it. It was subsequently occupied by the hospitable monks of San Juan de Dios, in order to care for the wounded soldiers, and for this reason it is now known as the convent of San Juan de Dios. It served later as a barracks for the police and the Guardia Civil, later going through a period of disrepair and ruin, until it was rebuilt by the vocational school.
Its remodelled facilities held the School of Theatre and Dance of Extremadura, having renovated the chapel to use as an auditorium. It currently holds the Tourism Information Office, as well as the Espacio Olivenza Museum and the Papercraft Museum.
The building’s whitewashed façade is noteworthy, with its upper windows that used to pertain to the cells where the monks slept and a lower row of windows with slate frames. The chapel's neoclassical marble doorway has Roman Doric columns. Above the columns, there is an entablature with a frieze of triglyphs and metopes. There is also a pediment, divided to house the royal crown in the centre over the coat of arms of Portugal, flanked by the armillary sphere, on the left, and the Olivenza coat of arms, on the right. Above the door, one can see the choir’s window, and the whole façade is topped with a triangular pediment, at the centre of which there is an oval window whose upper edge ends in volutes and acroteria.
The chapel’s unique rectangular floor plan has a barred vault and one main altar, with four more on the sides and a raised choir at the back. As part of the renovation process the whole chapel has recently endured, frescoes alluding to members of the hospitable Order of San Juan de Dios have been restored. The shrine also features vegetal motifs paintings. The main marble altar is crowned with a semi-circular arch that depicts the Portugal coat of arms on its upper part.
Tuesday to Saturday: 10:00-13:30 and 17:00-19:00
Tuesday to Friday: 10:00-13:30 and 16:00-18:00
Saturday and Sunday: 10:00-13:30
Plaza de San Juan de Dios
0034 924 490 151