Setenil de las Bodegas – Beauty caught between a rock and a hard place

Photo Credit: Creative commons, share alike by MauroMarinelli

During your Spanish holiday this year, why not visit somewhere which is both unique and fascinating?  Setenil de las Bodegas is just such a location.  While the town itself is your typical white Andalusian village, or Pueblo Blanco, it is rather different from the average.  The town is set in Cádiz province, at around 157 kilometers from the province’s capital, Cádiz.

Setenil, as the town is known for short, is becoming famous for the fact that its 3,000 inhabitants literally live right under an enormous, overhanging rock.

The houses of the town are laced along a river gorge created by the Rio Trejo, and many of the town’s homes, restaurants and shops are actually part of the rock walls of that gorge.  Most of the buildings were created by enlarging the natural caves in the rock itself and adding an external wall, and the effect of all that rock overhanging the houses is pretty spectacular.

Photo Credit: Creative Commons, share alike by Falconaumanni
While some might think it a tad prehistoric to live in a cave, bear in mind that in a region with very hot summers and freezing cold winters, the naturally formed caves are actually the perfect living environment, due to the fact that they keep a comfortable, all-year-round temperature.  You will find that to a major extent, air-conditioning and heating are not really required in town!

While there is not much in the way of holiday accommodation in the town, you might, anyway, prefer to stay in more normal accommodations and there are plenty of lovely holiday villas on offer in the surrounding areas.

For the history buff, besides the more natural caves converted to homes in the town, there is plenty of other evidence of other, more ancient, cave-dwelling people in the area, including those at the Cueva de la Pileta, or Cave of the Pool, located near Ronda, not too far away.  Here the experts can track habitation in the caves back around 25,000 years.

If all this talk of caves makes Setenil sound like a trip back into prehistoric times, bear in mind that the town does have all the normal modern conveniences too.  The restaurants, bars and food emporiums in the town have been ranked as among the best of the region.  Setenil offers delicious delicacies such as chorizo (that wonderfully tasty spicy sausage), as well as olive oil, jam and honey.   The town is also famous for its great Andalusian wines, which can be supped with pleasure in the local eateries.

Setenil is an interesting visit all year round, but the town definitely comes more to life during the spring and summer months, when the town’s cafés, markets and restaurants, hugged by the looming  overhang of that rock, become a bustling and lively place to be.

While there is little accommodation on offer in the town itself, Setenil de las Bodegas also makes for a great day-trip.  Make sure you have your camera handy as this place is one big Kodak moment!