Aerial view of Olvera. SUR
Olvera: An olive grove in a beautiful valley

Olvera: An olive grove in a beautiful valley

The origin of this name has divided historians and theories range from Celtic, Visigoth, Roman and Arabic, although none has been proven

Tony Bryant


Friday, 15 March 2024, 13:50


The exact origin of the place name of Olvera (Cadiz) has confused historians for many years and differing theories have developed, one of which is that it was originally a Celtic settlement called Caricus. Other academics claim that there was a Visigoth town called Cenosia situated near the current town of Olvera, located in an area known as Vallehermoso (beautiful valley).

Located northeast of the Cadiz mountain range, bordering the provinces of Seville and Malaga, numerous Roman settlements have been discovered in the area. Archaeologist Lorenzo Perdigones' survey of this area resulted in the discovery of the remains of a 3rd century BC Roman town: the foundations of the town's castle also proved to be from the Roman era. The geographical adjustment of a map of Roman Spain published in the late 19th century led historians to believe that the original Roman town could have been Ilipa, but this has never been certified.

It would appear that the first reliable explanation of the origins of Olvera comes from documentation from the Arabic period, when it was noted in chronicles in the 12th century as an outpost in the mountains called Wubira; it was referred to as Uriwila nearly 200 years later when retaken by Christian forces.

Adolfo de Castro, a member of the Royal Academies of Language, History and Moral and Political Sciences of Spain, disagrees with the etymology of the toponym. He suggests that the Arabic town was called Al-Berr, meaning the field, and that it is from this that the name of Olvera evolved.

Most of Olvera's surrounding lands consist of agricultural areas dedicated mainly to the cultivation of olive trees, giving rise to another theory that Olvera comes from Olivera, and that the 'i' has been lost phonetically over the years. The fact that the town's coat of arms includes two olive branches has added fuel to this theory.

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