Badajoz and Olivenza

Badajoz and Olivenza

Take this route along the South Border to discover the history and artistic heritage which is the fruit of the blending of the neighbouring cultures of Portugal and Spain.

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Badajoz and Olivenza

Border cities

  • Take this route along the South Border to discover the history and artistic heritage which is the fruit of the blending of the neighbouring cultures of Portugal and Spain.

    Badajoz, with its multicultural origins and history is a city which is well worth a visit. Founded in 875 AD by Muladi Ibn Marwan, who fortified and populated it on the banks of the Guadiana River, and later conquered by Christian knights in 1230, the city has followed a martial and military model throughout its history as a result of its strategic emplacement directly on the border with Portugal.

    When you arrive in Badajoz, your first visit must be to the Moorish Alcazaba (citadel). Its origins date back to the 9th century, but the fortifications which remain are from the Almohad period (12th-13th centuries). Considered to be one of the best citadels in Spain and one of the largest in the world, you can tour the city walls, enjoy the views and take the opportunity to visit the Provincial Archaeological Museum, located within the walled city. Adjoining the Alcazaba you'll find Plaza Alta, the town's most important square, with porticoes and geometric paintings dating from the Baroque era, and Plaza San José, a square with the oldest houses remaining in the city: the Mudejar houses, today converted into a Visitor Centre and Tourist Office.

    After this walk you should stop for a bite to eat – tapas on a terrace if the weather is fine, or something more substantial in one of its reputable restaurants.

    We highly recommend visiting one of the most identifiable symbols of the city: the 16th century Puerta de Palmas gate. It consists of two cylindrical masonry towers crowned with battlements. Construction was finished in 1551 and it constituted the main gateway to the city and where customs controls took place. The turrets served as a royal prison until the end of the 19th century. You can also walk over Puente de Palmas, the bridge next to the gate with the same name, and enjoy a stroll by the riverside.

    In Plaza de la Soledad square you will find another little corner of great beauty, with the Soledad Shrine and the Giralda and Tres Campanas (Three Bells) buildings, representing the unique architecture of the end of the 19th/beginning of the 20th century. Another surprising square is Plaza de España, which houses the Cathedral of San Juan, built by order of King Alfonso X "The Wise" and comprising styles ranging from Gothic to Baroque.

    A short distance from Badajoz you'll find Olivenza, a border city of mixed origins, a symbol of coexistence and cultural dialogue resulting from its blend of Portuguese and Spanish, ideal for the second day of your tour. On the signing of the Treaty of Alcañices in 1297, it passed over to Portugal until it was recovered by Spain in 1801. All of its architecture displays a blend of both countries and it has a very extensive monumental heritage.

    Founded by the Order of the Temple, it took its first steps under Castilian sovereignty in the mid 13th century but once it was in Portuguese hands, King Denis of Portugal and his successors increased its status by the granting of privileges and the addition of fortifications.

    Its architecture reflects the blend of styles and in the old town there are still remains of the walled city which had a total of 14 towers. The 14th century gates of Alconchel and Los Ángeles and the Alcázar Tower have been preserved, the latter at 37 metres being the highest on the frontier. Inside the Alcázar you should not miss the González Santana Ethnographic Museum, which houses a spectacular recreation of the different activities relating to life in the district of Olivenza at the beginning of the 20th century.

    You must visit the Church of Santa María del Castillo which adjoins the Alcázar. In the interior you will find the most surprising altarpiece in Olivenza: the Capilla del Evangelio (Chapel of the Gospel) with a reproduction of a Jesse Tree more than 10 metres high, depicting the ancestry of Mary and of Jesus.

    The city's sites also include the Cuarteles de Independencia (Independence Barracks), also called the Royal Bakery, the Cuartel de Caballería (Cavalry Barracks), the barracks of San Carlos and of the Poxo, all in Neoclassic style. They are well worth a visit.

    Also of interest in Olivenza is the beautiful Portuguese tilework which embellishes a great number of public and religious spaces and which is evidence of its Portuguese past. The tilework you really must see is in the chapel of the Casa de la Misericordia (House of Mercy), whose walls are covered with Baroque tiles depicting scenes of deeds of mercy. 

    Before leaving you must taste Técula Mécula, a world famous dessert whose recipe is a jealously guarded secret. It is a dessert made from egg yolks and almonds, wrapped in puff pastry and coated with egg yolk. It can keep up to a month in perfect condition, although it is highly unlikely to last that long...

    On the outskirts you can visit the Ajuda Bridge, a huge, 390-metre stone bridge, built in the 16th century to span the Guadiana River and which was blown up in 1709 during the Spanish War of Succession. As the Guadiana forms a natural border, a new international bridge has been built, but you can still admire the dozen or so arches from the old bridge which are still standing.

  • Distance:
    30 km
  • Weekend
  • Theme:

    • Leisure

    Type of Transport:

    • Motor vehicle
  1. Day 1
  2. Day 2
Badajoz — leisure and culture at the border

a Badajoz — leisure and culture at the border

Tourist destination

Crossed by the Guadiana River, there's nothing you won't find in Badajoz. The city's building façades and street corners are just oozing with history; not to mention its parks, ideal for a stroll or sports activities, and a wide range of services on offer to enable you to enjoy the city at your leisure.


_ Badajoz , Badajoz (Extremadura)

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