The autonomous community of Extremadura is characterized by its 12 olive growing regions unanimously distributed in its two provinces. Among these twelve regions is the region of Jerez-Serena, bordering the provinces of Córdoba and Seville in the south. It contains 51 municipalities and dedicates more than 85% of its area to agriculture. Here there are nearly 40,000 ha of olive trees planted in the traditional method. They are mainly of the Morisca variety, and make up a landscape that, together with the meadows and the Mediterranean scrubland of the northern foothills of Sierra Morena, contrast with the broad cereal plains of neighboring Campiña located further to the north.
Near one of its municipalities, Fuente del Arco, is a Mudejar-style hermitage. It was built towards the end of the fifteenth century, and is a hermitage site of the Virgen de Ara. It stands out because of the environment that houses the sanctuary. Here, there is a beautiful landscape, where centuries-old olive trees prevail. These trees have been witnesses to all the different civilizations that have come through this region throughout the ages.
The primitive temple that can be found here was a Christian temple with a beautiful Mudejar arcade, and attached buildings that served the temple. There was a cellar, two residences that housed occupants and an oil mill from the sixteenth century that still bears the oval coat of arms of the Order of Santiago. This mill is undoubtedly a symbol of the importance that the members of this order gave to EVOO.
In the beginning, the mill would have had a typical Spanish model stone (made from conical stones), and these would have been moved by animals. This is all based on the historical, geographical trends that have been studied around the same time. There is also evidence that table olives were also produced and were stored as canned olives.
In addition to these attached constructions, which have been declared a Good of Cultural Interest, the hermitage contains paintings of the mid-seventeenth century that decorate the vault of the sanctuary. They are works of six different disciples of Francisco de Zurbarán, representing scenes from Genesis, as well as the Sistine Chapel of Michelangelo himself in the Vatican Palace. However, in this case, the enclave is the olive grove of Extremadura.
All of these architectural, cultural and artistic wonders including olive trees reveals the importance they have held over the centuries.
Nowadays Extremadura is of the main places of growth and development in the international olive oil sector.