Oliva is a pretty and lively town on the outskirts of the province of Valencia in the region of Safor, which has a very beautiful, stylish and colossal neoclassical church in its centre.

The parish church of Santa María la Mayor represents the historical, cultural and spiritual development of the Valencia region in its architecture. Let's take a look...

* Report by Karla Ingleton Darocas, Hons. B.A. ( (C)  (KarlaDarocas.comno part of this text or photos may be replicated) 

This 18th century neo-Renaissance achievement is very stylish in white, black and gold. There are three wide naves with spacious neo-Romanesque barrel vaults. There are echoes of Baroque designs around the octagonal main dome and in the lunette behind the altar. Fresco paintings of the four apostles surround the dome with the Virgin Mary-inspired keystone in the centre of the star crown.

The upper windows are perfectly spaced from their buttresses. In true Roman revival form, the interior is arranged on the basis of Corinthian pilasters and fluted counter-pilasters with matching capitals.

This church is actually a tribute to two very famous Valencianos, Tomás Vicente Tosca and Juan Bautista Corachán, who formed the nucleus of the Valencian Chapter of Novatores, founded in 1686. These men were great mathematicians who, as great intellectuals, responded to the crisis of European consciousness that coincided with the Scientific Revolution and preceded the Enlightenment.

The architectural scheme is modelled on the great churches of Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola, one of the great Italian architects of the 16th century, who worked for Pope Julius III and after his death was taken in by the Farnese papal family and collaborated with Michelangelo.

As with many churches remodelled in the classical style of the Renaissance, it is not surprising that the foundation was originally the base of another church.

This original church was Gothic in origin, and since the Muslims were not expelled until the mid-17th century, much of the exterior reflects their unique Mudejar style of adobe and fieldstone.

In 1683 a reconstruction was begun but never completed. In 1705 work was resumed, which lasted practically the entire seventh century (1705-1787), for there were two major setbacks: the War of Succession 1705-1713 and, unfortunately, in 1754 the main dome and part of the roof collapsed due to subsidence or shifting of the earth beneath the church. This sometimes happens after heavy rains, but I have no idea how the shifting occurred, it is pure speculation.

In 1754, the architects decided to build an additional buttress to reinforce the apse to prevent further collapse of the central dome. This buttress is located at the back of the church on Calle de les Moreres and since it is outside the church, you can pass through it like a tunnel.

The front of the church is of smooth plaster with a neoclassical façade of columns, capitals and pediments framed by a Gothic arch of brick. The three saints in the stone niches around the portal door are the images of the Assumption, Saint Anthony of Padua and Saint Francis of Assisi.

The best time to visit this wonderful masterpiece is around 11:00 am on Sunday before church. As with any of the great churches of Spain, you should simply follow the bell tower.

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