Olivenza is a city at the border of two countries. It has belonged to Spain and Portugal, and hence it has traditions, folklore, and food inspired by both. Let me first tell you a bit about these... and then I will present to you the most controversial cake in Portugal!
Life is easy in Olivenza, a small city that can be found not far away from Badajoz and Elvas. With a beautiful, pedestrian city center, kids can run -or skate- around its castle and squares freely, while their parents sip a beer at any of the numerous bars in this place. Yes, bars are essential in a city with so many celebrations. The most famous of them, the bullfighting fair, takes place on the first weekend of March. Olivenza is the first national arena to open the season, and the greatest bullfighters line up to perform here. It does not matter if you are not into bullfighting. If the weather is good, the streets are so packed that they look like a giant disco outdoors. Over 10,000 attend this event every year. It is such a big party!
Summer is a great season. Every month, each neighborhood organizes its very own "feria.” A feria is a very typical party held in every town of Spain, usually once a year. But not in Olivenza: we celebrate our feria three times! Summer starts traditionally with Saint John’s fair. For this night, every association, neighborhood, or simply a group of friends construct some dolls. The goal is to create a parody representing some topic that has been important that year in Spain. At the end of the night, the best dolls get a prize and are burnt in a huge bonfire. Some years ago, it also used to be a popular thing to write a wish on a paper boat and let it flow away.
Another party with pagan tinges is the Maya (for mayo, May - the month). Some kids are dressed totally in white and sit in a square while other children dance around them dressed in typical clothes.
The funny named 'Técula Mécula' is a cake with a very controversial origin. Casa Fuentes, a very old local bakery, claims its invention. You should go there and try it; it is delicious. You do not need much: it is made with a lot of sugar, so a tiny piece will get you full! However, some nuns in Évora respond that they created the original recipe back when they were living in Olivenza. They claim to have brought it with them to Évora. As a matter of fact, when Olivenza became Spanish, everything official was transferred to Évora. The same happened, for instance, to the prestigious Batallion of Dragons. Their building is the current health center of Olivenza. It is a huge military building with marble floors and very high ceilings.
Like Casa Fuentes, the bakeries in Olivenza sell Portuguese pastries and serve an excellent coffee. Portugal keeps its print visibly in Olivenza: for instance, its coat of arms has not been removed from the Homage Tower or the Manuelin city hall gate.
The rich heritage of Olivenza, its traditions, and architecture, make this beautiful town an one of a kind in the whole Península. I would say that it is totally worth a visit.
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