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article imagePhoto essay: Between a rock and a hard place in Setenil, Spain Special

By Anne Sewell     May 16, 2013 in Travel
Setenil - The Spanish town of Setenil de las Bodegas in Cádiz Province, Spain, or Setenil for short, is an unusual place to visit, with around 3,000 inhabitants living, quite literally, under an enormous rock.
This typical white Andalucían village (or pueblo) is located 157 kilometers (87 mile) northeast of the city of Cádiz and is a place of utter fascination.
The town has a very distinctive setting along a narrow river gorge, extending along the course of the Rio Trejo. Many of the houses are built into the rock walls of the gorge itself creating an unusual setting, as can be seen from the photographs.
The buildings were created by enlarging natural caves or overhangs in the rock and adding an external wall.
Setenil de las Bodegas in Cadiz province  Spain
Setenil de las Bodegas in Cadiz province, Spain
YouTube
You might possibly think that living in a cave is, well, somewhat prehistoric. However, these natural caves are actually ideal living quarters, which retain a comfortable temperature whether in the extreme heat of summer, or the cold of winter.
Setenil de las Bodegas in Cadiz province  Spain
Setenil de las Bodegas in Cadiz province, Spain
YouTube
The modern part of Setenil actually evolved from a fortified Moorish town that occupied a bluff overlooking the bend in the Rio Trejo. The castle in the town dates from at least the Almohad period of the 12th century.
However, as with so many Andalucían villages, the site was almost certainly occupied during the Roman invasion of the region in the 1st century AD.
Setenil de las Bodegas in Cadiz province  Spain
Setenil de las Bodegas in Cadiz province, Spain
YouTube
With evidence of other nearby cave-dwelling societies, including those at Cueva de la PIleta west of Ronda, where they have tracked habitation back possibly more than 25,000 years, it is quite possible that Setenil was first occupied very much earlier.
Setenil de las Bodegas in Cadiz province  Spain
Setenil de las Bodegas in Cadiz province, Spain
YouTube
While this all makes the town sound like a prehistoric adventure, all the modern facilities are available in Setenil. The bars, food shops and restaurants in the town are ranked as the best in the region. Delicacies such as chorizo, honey, jam, olive oil and the best Andalucían wines have made the town famous.
Setenil de las Bodegas in Cadiz province  Spain
Setenil de las Bodegas in Cadiz province, Spain
YouTube
While lovely to visit any time of the year, the town comes to life during spring and summer and is a vibrant place with picturesque white-washed cafés, restaurants and markets nestled under the heavy overhang of the rock.
Setenil de las Bodegas in Cadiz province  Spain
Setenil de las Bodegas in Cadiz province, Spain
YouTube
Setenil de las Bodegas is a definite must-visit on your Andalucían holiday! While there are no major hotels in the village itself, the mountaintop town of Ronda is a short drive away with several excellent properties to choose from and some fascinating architecture of its own.
Setenil de las Bodegas in Cadiz province  Spain
Setenil de las Bodegas in Cadiz province, Spain
YouTube
Extended views of Setenil de las Bodegas in Cadiz Province  Spain
Extended views of Setenil de las Bodegas in Cadiz Province, Spain
Jialiang Gao
More about Spain, setenil de las bodegas, cadiz province, Cave, Caves
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