Gastronomy 

Olive Oil Route

Olive growing and production of olive oil are a historical, cultural, ethnographic and gastronomic reference in Extremadura. Olives have been grown for 2,500 years, as evidenced by archaeological remains and historical sources.

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Ruta del Aceite

Olive growing and production of olive oil are a historical, cultural, ethnographic and gastronomic reference in Extremadura. Olives have been grown for 2,500 years, as evidenced by archaeological remains and historical sources.

Would you like to visit an oil mill and know more about the process for producing olive oil? Did you know that Extremadura is the home of thousands years old olive trees, and that archaeological remains evidence that oil was made in this area more than 2,000 years ago?

Ruta del Aceite

Discovering all this and much more is possible thanks to the Club de Producto Ruta del Aceite de Extremadura, a public-private initiative promoted by the General Directorate of Tourism which grouped oil mills, activity companies, museums and centres for interpretation with the goal of organizing and structuring the tourist offer services related to gastronomic tourism focused in olive oil, by offering experiences, and organizing events to boost tourist activity.

This gastronomic tourist route started at the end of 2019 and revolved around the two areas in Extremadura which are included in Olive Oil Protected Denomination of Origin: Gata-Hurdes and Aceite Monterrubio.

THE TRADITION OF OLIVE GROWING IN EXTREMADURA

Olive growing and production of olive oil are a historical, cultural, ethnographic and gastronomic reference in Extremadura. Olive oil production has been carried out for 2,500 years, as evidenced by archaeological remains and historical sources.

This ancient olive oil tradition is maintained today, as are many of its methods. This, together with the quality standards required by the two Protected Denominations of Origin present in Extremadura, guarantee that olive oil from this region is of an excellent quality, honouring a 2,000 years long tradition.

Olive groves and olive oil have been a feature of Extremadura since ancient times, as evidence by different archaeological sites such as the La Mata Tartessic site in Campanario or the Roman villa in Torreáguila, near Barbaño, which includes the best open-for-visit example of a Roman oil mill, since the entire olive oil production system has been preserved.

The county of La Serena can boast a high number for Roman villas, all linked to the production of olive oil; some still have remains of tanks and stone oil presses, which today stand in the middle of olive groves, a witness of an olive culture which has persisted, virtually uninterrupted, for centuries.

The province of Cáceres also has a high number of tanks and mills. Especially remarkable are the mills around Santibáñez el Alto; the Visigoth church of Santa Lucía del Trampal, which probably was an important oil production hub according to the amount of archaeological remains found associated to this activity; the area surrounding Trujillo and Santa Cruz de la Sierra, or the agger norbensis in the area of Los Barruecos, Río Salor, Casar de Cáceres and, a little further away, the surroundings of Mata de Alcántara.

For centuries, Extremadura has been covered by olive groves. Some trees are thousands of years old and are witnesses of the long olive growing and olive oil tradition of most of Extremadura.

These centuries old olive trees produced oil which was exported to Rome using the road that connected the area with Hispalis (Seville) or Olissipo (Lisbon). The same oil was supplied to the public baths of Alange, Baños de Montemayor o la Nava de Cabeza del Buey as one of the key elements of their wellness treatments, as well as a basic foodstuff for the legions established in the Germania limes, as evidenced by archaeological findings.

There is abundant evidence of the excellent quality of the oil produced here, not only in Roman historiography bust also by English travellers, who, in the 1th century, reported that the Sierra de Gata had delicious oils, or in the prize awarded to this oil in the 1900 Paris Universal Exhibition.

This route also pursues to value, preserve and protect the landscape of olive groves. The large extensions of land in the La Serena area or the terraced groves in the hilly areas of Sierra de Gata, Las Hurdes and Tierras de Granadilla, in the northern area of the province of Cáceres, which stand next to holms, oaks, cork trees, chestnuts, pines, and rockrose bushes in the Villuercas-Ibores, Jara UNESCO Global Geopark.

Olivar

GATA-HURDES OLIVE OIL ROUTE

The starting point of this route is the north of the province of Cáceres, taking the EX-205 road from Valverde del Fresno to the A-66 by La Granja. This route crosses the areas of Gata, Hurdes and Trasierra-Tierras de Granadilla. The area can also be reached by taking the EX-A1 that crosses the valley of the Alagón River, which is an area included in this Denomination of Origin.

Several oil mills open to visit are located along the route, and they offer visits to their groves and facilities, tastings of extra virgin olive oil and other olive oil-related tourist activities. Some examples of such mills are Cigüeña Negra in Valverde del Fresno, As Pontis in Eljas, Oleosetin in Marchagaz, Oleum Viejo in Mohedas de Granadilla y Jacoliva in Pozuelo de Zarzón.

The olive oil from this Denomination of Origin is made from olives of the manzanilla cacereña variety, a local variety which is the liquid gold of northern Cáceres.

Olive oil is also the star in several cultural and ethnographic resources of the area, such including the Molino del Medio Museum in Robledillo de Gata, the Centre for Interpretation of Oil in Marchagaz and the Centre for Interpretation of Sierra de Gata in Torre de Don Miguel.

The Molino del Medio Museum consists on an old oil mill dating back to the Middle Ages which was used until 1973. It was carefully restored and reopened as a museum in 2004. It was been rewarded with the Spanish Association of Olive Towns for “offering visitors the possibility of seeing and appreciating an olive mill that is unique in all of Spain”.

A visit to the Centre for Interpretation of Sierra de Gata in Torre de Don Miguel is well worth it if you want to know more about the traditional ways of life of this olive-growing area. It is located in one of the most picturesque corners of the town, the old Jewish quarter known as El Cancillo quarter, which has preserved most of the features of popular architecture, especially balconies. The centre offers guided tours of the town and of the Los Molinos Archaeological Park. Such is the name of the route that runs along the San Juan stream, which, back in the day, actioned at least ten oil mills, several of which still stand.

In the Trasierra-Tierras de Granadilla, the Centre for Interpretation of Olive Culture, in Marchagaz proposes a visit to a traditional oil mill, a modern oil mill and miniature oil mill.

Olive oil is life, and this region celebrates its long olive-growing culture in different events and activities. Among them is the Fiesta del Capazo, one of the oldest rites in Extremadura, which celebrates the end of winter and the end of olive grinding in the mills. Fires are lit up for purification, and offerings are made to the Patroness Saint, asking for protection and a good harvest. It is celebrated every year on the Saturday following Easter Sunday.

Other must-see towns due to their immense cultural heritage are Robledillo de Gata, Site of Cultural Heritage, popular architecture in San Martín de Trevejo, the Trevejo Site of Cultural and Artistic Interest in Villamiel, the Almenara Castle in Gata or the Castille of Santibáñez el Alto, all of them in the county of Gata.

In the route around San Martín de Trevejo, Eljas and Valverde del Fresno it is not strange to see signs and listen to locals speak in Fala, a local language directly derived from mediaeval Galician-Portuguese, still spoken today. It is, without a doubt, a mark of identity of this are, which has been classified as intangible cultural heritage.

The county Valle del Alagón, where the oil mill Jacoliva is located, occupies a large olive grove of the manzanilla cacereña variety, especially in the are included within the protected denomination of origin Gata-Hurdes, that is, the municipalities of Montehermoso, Pozuelo de Zarzón and Guijo de Coria. The capital of this county is Coria, which constitutes a commercial and tourist centre. Coria’s old town is well worth a visit, including its Cathedral and the Bishop’s palace, its wall, its tower and its Roman bridge. Another interesting visit is the historic site of Galisteo, with its splendid Arab walls and the ethnographic museum of Montehermoso, in the conservation site near the town including a megalithic site, and a Roma ensemble including mill and furnaces.

The Trasierra -Tierras de Granadilla county is crossed from north to south by the historical path that follows the historical Roman Silver Road (Vía de la Plata). Remain of this age can be visited in the Roman archaeological site of Cáparra, featuring a tetrapylon (and classified as Site of Cultural Heritage), located between the municipalities of Oliva de Plasencia and Guijo de Granadilla, and the Roman bridge of Cáparra, in Guijo de Granadilla, and also a Site of Cultural Heritage. The Centre for Interpretation of the Roman Town of Cáparra provides further information about this site.

This route goes though the province of Cáceres and allows to enjoy its beautiful landscapes and villages, the lush waterfalls in winter, the natural pools in summer, and, of course, the delicacies of a cuisine based in olive oil.

DOP Gata-Hurdes

PROTECTED DENOMINATION OF ORIGIN OIL OF MONTERRUBIO - LA SERENA ROUTE

The second olive-oil themed route in Extremadura goes through the area of La Serena, which is within the area of the Protected Denomination of Origin Oil of Monterrubio, an oil made essentially from the cornezuelo, picual or jabata olive varieties Olive groves are the trademark landscape of the hills and plains in this area, and they are also home to many other plant species.

This area is located to the east of the province of Badajoz. It can be reached taking the A-66 route, then the exit at Mijadas to Villanueva de la Serena and then taking the EX-104 route and going through several towns before reaching Monterrubio de la Serena.

All the towns in this county are oil producers. Monterrubio de la Serena is a reference among them. Two oil mills can be visited here: Cooperativa La Milagrosa and Cooperativa del Campo La Unidad, as well as the Technological Museum of Olive Oil.

This museum showcases the process of production of olive oil and admire from the simplest instrument to the most innovative techniques used for extracting and producing olive oil. This visit allows to understand the evolution of the olive oil sector in this area and this town.

It is possible to discover oil culture in the area thanks to several experience activities; besides admiring centuries-old olive trees, visiting oil mills and treating yourself in gastronomic boutiques, the 4WD route through olive groves in the area of Cabeza del Buey and Monterrubio de la Serena organized by Atutiplan is well worth it.

The route includes impressive archaeological treasures such as the Cancho Roano site near to Zalamea de La Serena, the Hiloviejo archaeological site (near to Quintana de La Serena) and La Mata archaeological site (near to Campanario). Not to be missed is the historical site of Magacela, where a castle and a dolmen can be admired.

This area is one of the best-preserved natural environments in the Iberian Peninsula, due to the diversity of its rich natural resources, and is considered one of the most important ecosystems in Europe in terms of wildlife. Four almost undamaged biotopes including hills (sierra), dehesa, wetlands and pseudo-steppe are home to some of the most important population of birds; and, every winter,  are the scenario of a centuries-old ritual: the migration of cranes.

In summer, it is possible to take a swim in any of its reservoir beaches, for example, in the Blue Flag freshwater beach of Orellana La Vieja or the Campanario beach located at the left bank of the Orellana reservoir.

DOP Monterrubio

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