Olivenza

Olivenza.
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Olivenza or Olivença is a town in the autonomous community of Extremadura.

As Olivença, the town was under Portuguese sovereignty between 1297 (Treaty of Alcañices) and 1801 when it was ceded to Spain under the Treaty of Badajoz. Spain has since administered the territory (now split into two municipalities, Olivenza and Táliga), whilst Portugal invokes the self-revocation of the Treaty of Badajoz, plus the Treaty of Vienna of 1815, to claim the return of the territory. In spite of the territorial dispute between Portugal and Spain, the issue has not been a sensitive matter in the relations between these two countries. Olivenza and other neighbouring Spanish (La Codosera, Alburquerque and Badajoz) and Portuguese (Arronches, Campo Maior, Estremoz, Portalegre and Elvas) towns reached an agreement in 2008 to create a euroregion.

Olivenza is located on the left (east) bank of the Guadiana river, at an equal distance of 24 kilometres (15 miles) south of Elvas in Portugal and Badajoz in Spain. The territory is triangular, with a smaller side resting on the Guadiana and the opposite vertex entering south-east and surrounded by Spanish territory. By an agreement between Spain and Portugal, the left bank of the river was recognized as being Portuguese territory (to a non-defined width, though), and sets de facto border in that area.

Besides the town, the municipality of Olivenza includes six villages: San Francisco, San Rafael, Villarreal, Santo Domingo de Guzmán, San Benito de la Contienda, and San Jorge de Alor (Portuguese: São Francisco, São Rafael, Vila Real, São Domingos de Gusmão, São Bento da Contenda, and São Jorge da Lor). Another village, Táliga, was detached to become the seat of a separate municipality in 1850.

Some monuments include the Saint Mary of the Castle Church (Spanish: Iglesia de Santa María del Castillo, Portuguese: Igreja de Santa Maria do Castelo), Holy Ghost Chapel (Capilla del Espíritu Santo, Capela do Espírito Santo), Saint Mary Magdalene Church (Iglesia de Santa María Magdalena, Igreja de Santa Maria Madalena, considered a masterwork of Portuguese Manueline architecture), Saint John of God Monastery (Monasterio de San Juan de Dios, Mosteiro de São João de Deus), the keep (torre del homenaje, torre de menagem), and the ruins of the Our Lady of Help Bridge (Puente de Nuestra Señora de Ayuda, Ponte de Nossa Senhora da Ajuda, destroyed in 1709 and never rebuilt).

There are still traces of Portuguese culture and language in the people, although the younger generations speak Spanish only. At the beginning of the 1940s the city was reportedly mainly Portuguese-speaking, but after the 1940s a language shift towards Spanish took place. Famous people born in Olivenza include Cardinal Pedro da Fonseca (?-after 1419) and music composer Vicente Lusitano (?-after 1561).

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