Dominating the area, like the top of a pyramid, is Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación (the Parish of Our Lady of the Incarnation) next to the Arabic Castle: it is the vertex of a white expanse of houses amongst olive groves. This church, in neoclassic style, was built by the orders of the Duke of Osuña in 1822 (which created a debt with the Olvera township by not investing the taxes in the improvement of the town) on the foundations of a small gothic- mudéjar (Andalucian Moorish) style church (conserving and incorporating a small baptismal room), which in turn was built on the foundations of an Arabic mosque. The work was finished in 1843, culminating in one of the greatest churches of the province, with dimensions worthy of cathedral. In 1936 republican revolutionaries burnt some of the icons and images along with the interior during the Spanish Civil War. In the interior are several frescos, stain glass windows of great value and images of the different phases of the death of Christ can be found, among them a Crucified Christ from the 16th century, discovered 15 years ago in the cellars of the building. The last restoration started in 1994 being closed to the congregation until the conclusion of works at the end of the 1999. At the moment the greater church of Olvera is again closed, due to a fire lasting 15 hours of an image/statue in September 2004, leaving the sacred place in lamentable condition. It is hoped that the necessary money will soon be obtained to reopen the church.
A clear spring day overlooking the town of Olvera
An ornate church interior near Olvera in Andalucia.
A Spanish patio in a church in Andalucia
Zahara de la Sierra, Spain / Geolocalización : 30 286740E 4079664N. Altitud :514 metros
Europe is generally agreed to be the birthplace of western culture, including such legendary innovations as the democratic nation-state, football and tomato sauce.
The word Europe comes from the Greek goddess Europa, who was kidnapped by Zeus and plunked down on the island of Crete. Europa gradually changed from referring to mainland Greece until it extended finally to include Norway and Russia.
Don't be confused that Europe is called a continent without looking like an island, the way the other continents do. It's okay. The Ural mountains have steadily been there to divide Europe from Asia for the last 250 million years. Russia technically inhabits "Eurasia".
Europe is presently uniting into one political and economic zone with a common currency called the Euro. The European Union originated in 1993 and is now composed of 27 member states. Its headquarters is in Brussels, Belgium.
Do not confuse the EU with the Council of Europe, which has 47 member states and dates to 1949. These two bodies share the same flag, national anthem, and mission of integrating Europe. The headquarters of the Council are located in Strasbourg, France, and it is most famous for its European Court of Human Rights.
In spite of these two bodies, there is still no single Constitution or set of laws applying to all the countries of Europe. Debate rages over the role of the EU in regards to national sovereignty. As of January 2009, the Lisbon Treaty is the closest thing to a European Constitution, yet it has not been approved by all the EU states.
Text by Steve Smith.