History in Service of Olive Oil
The Private Foundation of the Olive Oil Theme Park was founded in 1998, two years after discovering nearly buried arches and interiors of impressive majesty. Studies by historians Josep Maria Sans i Travé and Joan Foguet i Sans concluded that the estate was the so-called Torre de la Sala, as per a document dated 1264.
The Templars, during the 12th and 14th centuries, aimed to protect pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land. To achieve this, they harvested the fruits from a variety of establishments they owned across Europe.
The Torre Sala (where today’s Olive Oil Theme Park is located) was one of the estates owned by the Knights Templar; situated in a region named al-Zaytun (literally, the olive trees), they harvested the fruits of the land and sent the profits to the Holy Land, where their true struggle took place.
The interior spaces of the Olive Oil Theme Park had served as enormous vats for storing oil, and thus, production had to be very significant. This gave the idea, in that same year 1996, to build facilities to explain the history and cultivation of olive oil.
Brothers Francesc and Josep Riera turned the project into a foundation and began making a significant investment that resulted in the impressive facilities. Fortunately, the idea was not new, and presses, olive holders, and other objects had already been acquired, which today are the emblem of the entire project.
Thus, in January 1998, Jordi Pujol i Soley, the then-president of the Generalitat of Catalonia, inaugurated the Olive Oil Theme Park. Immediately afterward, all the presidents of the cooperatives from the region of Les Garrigues and the Protected Designation of Origin Les Garrigues were incorporated as Honorary Members of the foundation, along with many other political and cultural figures from Catalonia.
During the period from 1998 to 2010, the foundation experienced an unstoppable period of growth and consolidation. In addition to the interior installations, presses were installed outdoors, and millennium-old olive trees from the town of Ulldecona (Montsià) were brought in. Originating from the Airon plot, also known as the Romans, radiocarbon C14 dating and dendrochronological studies have been able to place their origin well beyond the Common Era, with an age range between 2,200 and 1,200 years.
The installations came to be considered one of the best cultural spaces associated with olive oil in the world and were integrated into the Olive Oil Museum network in Catalonia, offering historical and cultural tourism as well as gastronomic tourism. The severe crisis that Europe has been going through since 2008 forced its closure around 2012.
Now, in 2023, with a new board and modern management with a more global and unified vision, the Private Foundation Olive Oil Theme Park, under the presidency of Martí Mensa i Rovira, begins a period of splendor that should bring it to shine like the oil it advocates: that captivating golden hue observed by those who contemplate it, and the enchanting flavor tasted by those who try it.