Oliva is a tale of two cities old and new surrounded by lush green orange and Oliva groves which give the town its name.

Divided by the N332 on the west side you have the old town characterised by its narrow winding streets leading up the hill to one of the two churches – San Roc and Santa Ana. Further up still and you have the castle overlooking the town and the orange groves and olive groves – the produce of which give the town its name. Down towards the national road we have Calle San Vicent where during the annual Easter festival there is a bull run and it is in this location that hosts the mediaeval market.

San Roc church is reminiscent of an age gone by with its blue Moorish roofs, its sedate little square with little bars where people sit and watch the world go by on a sunny afternoon. Rising above the town like a sphinx it is one of the seven wonders of Oliva together with its sister chapel of Santa Ana further down towards the bottom of the old town.

Meander round the streets and you will come across town hall square where the architecture is striking and it is obvious that this is the showpiece of the town – everything is so clean. In fact that is one of the big features of this area – it is very clean. Even after a fiesta you can walk around the morning after and marvel that just the night before there were such festivities yet a mere few hours later there is absolutely no sign of it.

Then across the other side of the National road we have the new town with its tall apartment blocks and tree lined paseo, the site of the Friday market which sells everything from fresh fruit and vegetables (at a very reasonable price) to clothes, electrical goods, fabric and gift items at prices that will make you wonder how they can afford to live. In fact so popular is Oliva market that people come from miles around to experience it.

But the town isn’t the only thing Oliva has to offer. The area is very popular in Summer because of its amazing long white sandy beaches set against a mountain backdrop – by far the best beaches on this side of Spain. None of your built up beaches with cafes and bars and tourist shops – this is natural sand dunes with long stretches of white sand down to an inviting sea broken occasionally by the odd small river winding its merry way down to check out the nightlife.

But an added bonus in the summer is the erection of the Xiringuitos – beach bars. For those of you who have not experienced them you are missing out on a cultural part of life. During the day they serve as an oasis – a place to grab a cool drink and seek refuge from the hot sunshine. By night they transform into a paradise – good music with each bar playing a different type of music and different age groups from the older more mature to the young party animals hell bent on having a good time – all of course in good spirits.

Further along where the water runs off the mountains we have Font Sala – which runs under ground and provides an excellent source of natural fresh water all year round. Oliva is one of the few places in Spain that doesn’t suffer from bad water – so good it can be drunk straight from the tap and is as good if not better than anything you will get from a bottle. But that’s not all, there is a small lake at the bottom of the hill which apparently has healing properties due to its slightly sulphurous content. During the warmer months the area is a haven for those with creaking aching bones – who come out invigorated and revitalised. Perhaps if they bottled the water….but apparently they do that already.

Moving further down the coast we have the exclusive Oliva Nova golf course and urbanisation which was designed by none other than Spain’s most famous golfing son, Sevvy Ballesteros. In recent years it has been home to some up and coming championships and many a pro am celebrity golf tournament is played here – so if you wish to bump into the likes of Norman Wisdom and Ray Clemence then this is where they come.

With sweeping links and many a water feature the course hugs the beach and is one of the few golf courses in the area with a sea view. But the bunkers are a challenge so I am reliably informed. If you are a golfer then this is certainly a course you should try out, However the non golfing facilities are equally good – so good in fact that major international football teams such as Borussia Moenchengladbach and Bayern Munich to name a few, have trained here. The gymnasium is fully equipped with everything you could need to work off the calories you have accumulated in the 5 star restaurant and if you like the gourmet lifestyle then you will not be disappointed.

The Oliva area is famous for its fiestas – as are most of the towns locally. It is rumoured that you could enjoy a fiesta every weekend of the year in this area – and who are we to doubt it. Starting in January with the Three Kings  - the Spanish equivalent of Christmas, we swiftly move onto the Concurso de Paella – a paella competition organised by the fallas committees – what are the fallas I hear you ask. These are one of the most eagerly anticipated fiestas of the year – a festival of light and sound and the welcoming of the spring to the region.

The origins go way back to when the city carpenters of Valencia burnt all their old wood scraps and wooden utensils as a way of saying goodbye to the cold of the winter. It has evolved from this into a celebration of local dignitaries in the same way that guy Fawkes is in the UK. The local artists and craftsmen create marvellous effigies depicting dignitaries which are burnt on the final day. In Oliva there are five zones that compete for various titles to see who can build the best fallas effigy. Some of these are as high as 20M

The festivities are started by the Masclettas (noisy fireworks) which then set fire to a string of firecrackers that light the effigy and a whole years work goes up in smoke and flame. The fire brigade stand by of course at each point ready to douse the flames if anything untoward happens. The fires are started in the reverse order of what position the team came in. Last place goes first and first place takes the honour of being set light to last.

Straight after the Fallas we have Semana Santa or Easter as we know it. In Oliva town there are lots of festivities that go on such as the Bull run in San Vicente where incredibly ordinarily normal human beings try to take the challenge of outrunning a bull down the street. Each end is enclosed to ensure the bulls don’t escape (or is it because the organisers can then charge you to get in and watch)
Easter is also synonymous with parades and pageants and Oliva is no exception to this. Long processions pass through the town which, to the delight of the children, pass out sweets and sometimes small toys – but it is a shame the kids have to fight the adults for such prize booty.

Other worthy fiestas of note in Oliva are the Ferria De Verano – a car fair which happens in June to celebrate the feast of San Joan – which in turn is the official start of the summer – after which time the Xiringuitos are erected. Then we have the Moors and Christians with enactments of battles in full regalia between the two warring factions – later accompanied by more Paella and beer.

If there is one thing Oliva knows how to do well it is to throw a party. For the passing visitor it is a splendorous sight, but if you live here you can never fail to be amazed at the diversity of the costumes, the energy of the people partaking and the friendliness of everyone involved (possibly inspired by the copious amounts of drink available.)

So if you are looking for a lively town in which to settle down and buy a dream home then you would be hard pushed to find somewhere quite as charming as Oliva and at the moment the property prices although rising are still fairly good value. So why not visit us and find out why no-one wants to leave.

Contact Information

Ayuntamiento de Oliva
Plaça del Ajuntament, 1
46780, Oliva, Valencia.

Tel:  962 850 250
Fax:  962 839 772

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Tourist Information Office
Passeig Lluís Vives (Parc de l'Estació),
s/n, 46780, Oliva, Valenica

Tel: 962 855 528
Fax: 962 839 772

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Guardia Civil: 962 850 205
National Health Service: 962 851 891
Post Office: 962 851 575
Hostal La Tropical: 962 850 602
Oliva Nova Golf: 962 857 600

Additional information