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Oliva de Mérida (Municipality, Extremadura, Spain)

Last modified: 2020-10-25 by ivan sache
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Flag of Oliva de Mérida - Image by Ivan Sache, 15 March 2020

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Presentation of Oliva de Mérida

The municipality of Oliva de Mérida (1,729 inhabitants in 2019; 25,450 ha; municipal website) is located 100 km east of Badajoz and 40 km south-east of Mérida. The municipality is composed of the town of Oliva de Mérida and five "singular entities", here groups of scattered farms once inhabited by field workers and now depopulated: Abejarones de Arriba y Abajo, Campo Ameno, La Osa y Navas, La Garza, and La Zapatera.

Oliva de Mérida was already settled in the Neolithic, as evidenced by the rock paintings found in the Charneca cave. A permanent settlement probably emerged in 2500-2000 BC. The site of El Palomar, excavated in 1998, yielded remains from a settlement inhabited in the 7th-5th centuries, pacifically abandoned.
Old traditions claim that Oliva was founded in 1897 BC, as Obriga, by a king named Brigo. The "modern" town would have been established by Roman Emperor August, as Cesarobriga, on the ruinbs of Obriga.
More reliable chronicles say that Oliva was erected in the 12th century by Alhagio, the Moorish ruler of Mérida. There is indeed firm evidence of a settlement during the Muslim period. Remains of a not documented fortification are found on the top of the Sierra del Espíritu Santo that overlooks the town.

Oliva is first mentioned in 1234, as occupied by King Ferdinand III the Saint and the Orders of Saint John and Alcántara during the siege of Medellín. After the Christian reconquest, Oliva was made the seat of a commandery of the Order of Saint James; Oliva and another 14 villages were placed under the jurisdiction of the Council of Hornachos by the Catholic Monarchs. After the suppression of Hornachos in 1640, the town was transferred to Llerena.
The town, originally known as LA Oliva or La Oliba, was renamed to Oliva de Mérida / Oliva de Extremadura at the end of the 18th century, for the sake of differentiation from Oliva de Jerez de los Caballeros (today, Oliva de le Frontera) and other places in Spain called Oliva.

Ivan Sache, 15 March 2020

Flag of Oliva de Mérida

The flag and arms of Oliva de Mérida, adopted on 28 April and 29 December 1994 by the Municipal Council and validated on 8 November 1994 and 7 March 1995 by the Assessing Council of Honors and Distinctions of the Government of Extremadura, are prescribed by an Order adopted on 11 April 1995 by the Government of Extremadura and published on 20 April 1995 in the official gazette of Extremadura, No. 46, pp. 1,457-1,458 (text).
The symbols are described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular, in proportions 2:3. Composed of two triangles formed by a diagonal running from the hoist's upper part to the fly's lower part, green at hoist and yellow at fly. Charged in the center with the municipal coat of arms in full colors.
Coat of arms: Per fess, 1. Or an olive tree vert, 2. Gules the Espíritu Santo chapel or port and windows azure. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed.

The massive Espíritu Santo chapel is the oldest sanctuary in Oliva de Mérida; it was built in the 15th century, in Gothic style, as the parish church. When a new parish church was built in a more suitable place, the old church was transformed to a chapel dedicated to St. Blasius. For whatever reason, the villagers preferred to call it the Espíritu Santo (Holy Ghost) chapel.
[Municipal website]

Ivan Sache, 15 March 2020