It is situated in the middle of an esplanade very close to the town of Carcastillo, of which it is an important monument, on the banks of the river Aragón to the north of the Bardenas Reales, of which it is congozante. The Cistercian monastery of La Oliva, formed by a group of medieval buildings, and others of extensions and reforms carried out and that extended until the Baroque, was founded in the first half of the twelfth century by the Navarrese king Garcia Ramirez called the Restorer, and placed under the order of the cister with monks of the abbey of Scala Dei. Since its foundation, the history of the monastery and the village where it is located ran in unison, because in 1163 the Navarrese king Sancho VI the Wise, son of the monarch García Ramírez, donated to the abbot and his monks the enjoyment of Carcastillo with all its terms and possessions, even the church of the village that until then belonged to the Crown of Aragon passed into the hands of the abbot.
The twelfth and thirteenth centuries were of great splendour for the monastery thanks to the help of the monarchy and clergy, but the fourteenth century, with the plague epidemic that ravaged the area and the various events of the kingdom, suffered a detriment that could not overcome until the next century. The Monastery of La Oliva recovered its importance until the 19th century, as the War of Independence and the confiscations were the beginning and cause of the difficult period that the monastery suffered, with a progressive deterioration and subsequent ruin and abandonment. In 1927, religious life was restored with the arrival of the Cistercian community of Val de San José and the buildings began to be rebuilt.
The Monastery of La Oliva has something special that invites the visitor to quietness and intimacy. Its magnitude and simplicity are striking. To enter it you have to pass under the pointed arch, on whose sides you can see the remains of the old 12th century wall, a large gate shelters the porter's lodge and above it stands the abbey palace built in the 16th century and renovated in the 18th century where you can admire a beautiful baroque staircase.
When passing through the gateway, the group of buildings that are grouped around the cloister and other open courtyards is surprising. The church of Santa María, from the 12th and 13th centuries, in the central part of the monastery, is considered to be one of the most perfect constructions of the Hispano-Languedocian school. It has a beautiful façade with elements from different periods and is crowned by a beautiful Renaissance-style tower. United to the north side of the church are the monastic rooms of the Middle Ages that are distributed around the cloister rebuilt in the XI and XV but original from the XII century, where there is also the chapter house, the old sacristy, the refectory, the kitchen ... and a wonderful staircase from the XVI century. In what is now the garden of the monastery is the chapel of St. Jesus Christ that was used as a temple of cult, while building the temple of the abbey. The silence and recollection that surrounds this monastery is only broken by the melodious sonority of the liturgical songs, which in vernacular language are sung by the monks who inhabit it.
There is often talk of the power and magic of boulders and the potential for luck and energy they transmit. Because boulders are part of the floor of the cloister of the monastery of La Oliva and it is said that it is lucky to walk on them..
La Oliva is one of the three monasteries preserved in the south of Navarre. If you visit the monastery on the days of the spring equinox, 21 March, and the autumn equinox, 21 September, you can enjoy a beautiful, luminous spectacle. All you have to do is stand in the centre of the temple's nave and the rays of light that enter through the windows will do the rest.
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According to legend, the origin and the name of the monastery are due to the fact that a Navarrese king, fighting against the Muslims, was wounded and died at the foot of an old wild olive tree, where the Monastery of La Oliva was later built.
Carcastillo is reached by the NA-128 coming from Caparroso, in the middle of the N-121 between Pamplona and Tudela and on the other hand the NA-128 joins it with Sádaba in Aragon. The NA-534 also reaches Carcastillo, which connects it with the north of Navarre as well as with Cáseda and Aibar. The locality also communicates with Murillo del Fruto and Santacara through the NA-1240. Carcastillo also has a bus service that connects it with Pamplona, Tafalla, Olite....
It is the NA-128 road shortly after leaving Carcastillo in the direction of Caparroso, shortly before arriving depending on our origin, where we will find the Monastery of the Olive. Next to the monastery we will have an ample parking where to be able to park our vehicle and to carry out the visit.
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10:00 h.501 km.
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