Old name: Ildulgoite (?) - Iologum
Name of inhabitants: Olietano
Population: 2.535 inhab. in 1910/ 1.879 inhab. in 1950 / 540 inhab. in 1995
Elevation: 542 mts.
Oliete is located on the northern side of the Sancho Abarca mountain range, on the right bank of the Martín river. Because the village is situated on a steep hill, its streets are considerably sloped.
In the XIII century, Oliete was ruled by the Alagón family. In 1297, after belonging to the Crown for a period of time, King Jaime II gave Oliete as a gift to his squire D. Raimundo de Cardona. In 1333, the Sesse family, and namely Don Juan Galindez de Sesse, acquired the territory, together with Alcaine and some other places of that area. Starting from the XV century, it seems Oliete belonged to the Bardaxí family, together with Alcaine, Obón and Alacón. Family ties then link this territory to the majorat of the Bermúdez de Castro (XVIII century) and Rebolledo de Palafox families until the XIX century.
Oliete controlled the crossing of the Martín river valley to the interior, and the passage in the Cueva Foradada strait. There, a reservoir was built at the beginning of the XX century, which adopted the name of the cave. Oliete was a fortified area, which still shows some remains of the mortar wall - traced back to the Muslim age - camouflaged among other buildings.
This advantageous condition was obvious even in the Iberian age. At that time, many villages strove for fortification and control of the valley.
In the old schools is the Center of Interpretation of the Iberian Culture of the Cultural Park.
Three access doors can be found in the fortified enclosure. At the end of the XVII century or at the beginning of the XVIII century, like the majority of the religious buildings of the place and according to the traditional customs of the region for these kind of buildings, three open chapels were built on the doors: the Saint Barbara's chapel to the west, the Pilar's chapel to the centre-north and the Saint Martyrs' (Saint Fabian and Saint Sebastian) chapel to the east.
The urban centre develops around three main streets . The first, the lower street, runs along the old village wall and follows the main irrigation ditch, which was probably built during the land irrigation process started by the Muslims. It goes along the three entrance arches and their respective chapels, which present remarkable façades along the way. Also of note are the baroque eaves and Aragonese galleries.
The second main street, Mayor street (calle Mayor), which has been recently cobbled, reflects a higher level of urban quality. As with the previous, this street also starts from the westernmost door and extends, becoming a switchback trail, reducing the impact of the slope. It eventually reaches the square named after the church of the Assumption of Our Lady (iglesia de la Asunción de Nuestra Señora), which dates back to the XVII century. Attention should be paid to its remarkable mudéjar brick bell tower of the XVIII century. In this square we find the most important nobleman's house of the urban centre, a Renaissance house (XVI century) known as " La casa de la Donjuana, " where we can see a beautiful round arch portal featuring a coat-of-arms on the top and a large round arch gallery on a decorated frieze.
The street of the higher part of the village makes up the third axis, known as "the wall," where we find the Saint Bartholomew's hermitage (ermita de San Bartolomé), probably an old parish.
A series of narrow streets and covered passages on a steep slope, cross the abovementioned axes, climbing the incline of the hill hosting the urban center. The steepest side is the westernmost, where the houses and some wall remains lie on a steep rock area facing the river and the cultivated land. This zone is known as "transcastillo" (zone beyond the castle), where numerous buildings are concentrated, conferring an oval shape to the village. This also obliged the urban center to grow in the eastern sector, where the neighborhood beyond the walls is known as "arrabal", from ar-rabad -the outskirts neighborhood.
Out of the urban center we can find two hermitages: the Holy Sepulchre hermitage (ermita del Santo Sepulcro) - calvary- from where we can enjoy a beautiful view of the village and the Martín river valley, and the hermitage of the Virgin of Cantal (ermita de la Virgen del Cantal), which features a spring and spectacular cypresses.