Setenil de las Bodegas is one of the stops in the route through the white villages of Cádiz. We will find this village at the southeast of the province, at an altitude of 640 metres. More precisely, it lies at the gorge of the Trejo river. That is what makes this village such a peculiar place, since some of its streets are sheltered under the shadows of a rock, which creates quite a unique sight. The streets of Cuevas del Sol (“the sun caves”) and Cuevas de la Sombra (“the shadow caves”) are perhaps the most eye-catching ones.
Setenil de las Bodegas was a key location during the Spanish Reconquista. It is said that it endured seven sieges and, once the Catholic Monarchs finally seized it, the village was greatly rewarded. However, the history of Setenil goes way back. Experts believe that the place hosted prehistoric settlements in the Neolithic period. In fact, it is possible that these rocks acted as natural shelters for prehistoric tribes.
More recently, just like it happens with the cave-houses we find in southern Spain, these buildings in Setenil de las Bodegas tend to be linked to working class citizens. Nonetheless, currently these spaces are also occupied by traditional inns, garages or warehouses.
In Andalusia, it is not uncommon to find houses that are carved into the rock—that is, cave-houses. For example, we have Guadix in Granada, which holds up to 2000 cave-houses. Besides, the city of Granada is famous for having these types of buildings too. However, the cave-houses of Setenil de las Bodegas are slightly different compared to the former places.
To start with, we should look into the way houses are disposed in the municipality. They are settled at different heights from the castle to the floor, adapting to the river’s course. It is precisely at the lower part of the village, guarded by the gorge of the river, where said buildings can be found. Unlike in other places of Andalusia, in this case the houses are not carved into the rock; instead, they have used the rock as a ceiling and built the houses lengthwise.
In Setenil, these kinds of buildings can be found in streets such as Mina, Herrería or Triana. However, the streets of Cuevas del Sol and Cuevas de la Sombra have something different: the rock there does not simply act as a ceiling for the houses, but it also fully covers the street.
Cuevas del Sol and Cuevas de la Sombra are two parallel streets that go along the Guadalporcún river. The former is kissed by the sun all day long, and the latter is almost always covered in shadows, hence their names: “the sun caves” and “the shadow caves”.
Clearly, Setenil de las Bodegas has other interesting spots besides its cave-streets. There is another main street, Herrería, which is also remarkably popular and beautiful. The street of Calcetas is not far behind either. The square of Andalucía, the keep, the castle, the church of Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación, and lookouts such as El Lizón are also worth visiting. All in all, one should walk up and down the slopes of Setenil de las Bodegas, enjoying every hidden corner in this charming village.
Apart from that, it is important to note that Setenil belongs to the famous route through the white villages of Cádiz. It would be nice to visit some of the municipalities nearby, like Alcalá del Valle or Torre Alháquime.
Only 17 kilometres away, we will find some of the most popular villages of Spain: Ronda. The stunning sight of its bridge, worthy of the most epic narratives, is a landmark and the most obvious stop in the municipality. La Casa del Rey Moro, the walls of Ronda and the square of El Socorro are other must-sees there.
Gastronomy is also an appealing aspect of Setenil de las Bodegas, since the terraces are always full of life and delicious food at all heights. The main character here is the extra virgin olive oil, which comes hand in hand with any dish. The chacinas, which are traditional stuffed meats, are very popular here too.
Other typical products in the area come from the surroundings of Ronda and the mountain range of Cádiz, such as the cortijeras soup, scrambled eggs with asparagus, migas, gazpachuelo, and cocido. And of course, we cannot forget desserts. In this respect, cortadillos, tortas de aceite and quince are the most typical dishes. Moreover, Setenil has an emerging wine production industry.
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