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  • Writer's picturePretty Little Wanders

Why you should visit Setenil de las Bodegas and what to see

Why visit Setenil de las Bodegas?

Setenil de las Bodegas is a pretty whitewashed village in Andalucia, but what sets it apart from the countless other white villages (pueblos blancos) in Andalucia, is that Setenil de las Bodegas is literally built into the rock overhangs and it’s location is simply breath-taking. There is evidence that these caves and rocks have been inhabited by troglodytes (cave dwellers) some 25,000 years ago and visiting Setenil de las Bodegas gives you a real sense of this history, affording you the experience of dining, shopping and staying in one of these dwellings built into the rock overhangs. You can wander the streets of this unique village, discovering little alleyways, churches, plazas and more. This tiny village full of nooks and crannies is home to just 3,000 inhabitants.

Homes built into the stunning rock overhangs

Getting to Setenil de las Bodegas

The best way to get here is with a car, there are many car hire options in the main cities and airports. Setenil de las Bodegas is set in a mountainous area and the roads to Setenil will involve lots of curves and bends in the mountain roads, but it's generally an easy drive. Be mindful that the roads in the town itself are very narrow, cobbled streets and not really designed for cars, so maybe don't opt to hire a large vehicle. Once in the car park, everything is walking distance so there should be no need to drive in the town itself.


If you're not comfortable driving mountain roads you could always take a day trip from Malaga, Cadiz or various locations on the Costa del Sol. These trips often combine a visit to Setenil de las Bodegas with a visit to Ronda too.


Ronda to Setenil de las Bodegas 13 miles 30min drive

Malaga to Setenil de las Bodegas 62 miles 1hr 30min drive

Cadiz to Setenil de las Bodegas 84 miles 1hr 45min drive

Seville to Setenil de las Bodegas 74 miles 1hr 45 min drive


Rock overhangs in Setenil de las Bodegas
The village of Setenil is set amongst olive groves

Where to park in Setenil de las Bodegas

There is parking in Calle San Sebastian, although this may often be full. There is a dirt parking lot in Virgen del Carmen and it's a 10 minute walk into the centre. There is also pay and display underground car park, Parking Los Canos, We parked here, it's very convenient and parking overnight was about 8 euros.


A bit of History

It is thought that the name Setenil de las Bodegas derives from the latin ‘septem nihil’ which translates as ‘seven times no’, the seven refers to the number of times the Catholic rulers attempted to take the village back from the Moors. In the years that followed the surrounding areas were used to cultivate vineyards, and the caves were used as ‘bodegas’ or wine cellars which were used to provide a cool temperature. It’s easy to see why settlements have established in Setenil de las Bodegas. Firstly, the river Tajo runs through this entire village providing a valuable water source. Secondly, the huge rock overhangs meant that just a facade needed to be built for a dwelling, not an entire building. Additionally, the rock structures mean the dwelling will keep cool in the hot summer months.

rock overhangs in setenil de las bodges, the village of setenili
The beautiful location of Setenil de las Bodegas

What to see in Setenil de las Bodegas

The main draw here really is the setting of this village and the dwellings built into the caves and rock overhangs. There are a number of key streets (calles) that you don’t want to miss.

  • Calle Cuevas del Sol

This is the main street and translates as Street of the Caves of the Sun, it's full of shops, bars and restaurants and is a great place to have some tapas. Try the sopa cortijera here, a local hearty soup with wild asparagus, hard boiled eggs, sausage and spices. This street is right beside the river Tajo and it tends to be very busy in the day time when day trippers descend here.

setenil de las bodegas rock overhangs
Calle Cuevas del Sol lined with bars and restaurants
  • Calle Cuevas de la Sombre

This is on the opposite side of the road to Calle Cuevas del Sol and translates as the Street of the Street of the Caves of Shade, due to the shape of the rock overhang that covers the width of the street providing shade. (You'll have to cross the bridge from Calle Cuevas del Sol to get here)

Calle Cuevas de la Sombre
  • Calle Jaboneria

This street translates as Soap Street, most likely so named as there may once have been a soap market here or maybe this is where women came to wash clothes.

  • Calle Herreira

Calle Herreira translates Blacksmiths Street, this narrow street with steps climbing up was probably at one time a blacksmiths forge. There is also a small museum you can visit here.

Calle Herreira
  • Calle Calcetas

This small street can be easily accessed from Parking Los Canos and contains a number of cave dwellings that can be rented. We stayed in one of these unique homes and it was something I would highly recommend.

Calle Calcetas

Viewpoints

  • Mirador del Carmen - Climb the 93 steps to this viewpoint, the steps are steep but the view worth it.

  • Calle San Sebastian - This viewpoint is the easiest to reach and is on one of the main streets.

  • Calle Ventosilla Alta - This viewpoint is best reached by foot, as the street is quite narrow and there is no parking.

  • Mirador del Lizon - This observation deck is open 24 hours.

Other sights include

  • Church of Our Lady of the Incarnation located at Mirador del Carmen

  • Old Town Hall, this 16th century building is also a Tourist Office

  • Besame en este Rincon (Kiss me in this corner)

  • Setenil sign

  • Nazari Castle (also known as The Castle of Setenil) this 12th century Arab castle athough now largely in ruins, the tower still remains which can be climbed for good views.


Tips

  • Try and stay the night here if possible (or visit early morning/evening). This village is becoming increasingly popular with day trippers and seeing this special place at night without all the day trippers is lovely atmosphere to experience.

  • Spend the night in one of the unique cave homes here.

  • For dinner with a view head to Restaurante el Mirador on Calle Cjon.

  • Do get off the main roads in this village and discover all the lesser explored places,

  • Be aware this village is set on different levels so there will be a lot of climbing (stairs and hills) involved. Wear comfy shoes!

  • The village is well signposted so you shouldn't really get too lost.

  • Half a day is enough to visit this village.

  • Take a scenic drive to the nearby village of Olvera (another beautiful pueblo blanco) but the drive there is also worth doing for the views. It's a 25 minute drive.


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