In the province of Cádiz you will find the spectacular little village of Setenil de las Bodegas. The town stands out from the string of white Andalusian villages as many of the houses are built into the rock caves.
After negotiating several steep roads and hairpin bends, the small town of whitewashed houses, Setenil de las Bodegas, reveals itself beautifully and surprisingly. The town’s houses cling to steep, lush cliff sides down to the Guadalporcun River, which runs through the town.
The unusual white Andalusian town(pueblo blanco) is home to around 3,000 souls, most of whom literally live under a rock.
Setenil is just 18 kilometres from Ronda and 95 kilometres from Málaga, so it’s a great place to visit if you’re holidaying in one of the popular cities.
Caves for storing food
Setenil was founded by the Romans and later occupied by the Moors. The name Setenil is thought to derive from the Roman Latin phrase septem nihil (seven times no), which refers to the failure of the Catholics to retake the city from the walls six times. Only in the seventh attempt was it successful. It was in 1484 that modern Setenil came into being.
People settled in the city for practical reasons. The natural caves of Setenil were perfect dwellings because they could keep out the heat in summer and the cold in winter.
Just as importantly, the cool caves were ideal for storing agricultural produce such as olives, almonds and wine – hence the town’s nickname Bodegas (warehouses) – which were grown in the town.
Today you can still see olive and almond trees flourishing on Setenil’s hills and rooftops.
The street with the clipboard
The most spectacular experience in Setenil is undoubtedly the small winding street, Calle Cuevas de la Sombra, which is completely covered by a rock wall.
The moisture from the rock hits you in the neck as you walk under the rocky bridge through the street. To some, the street looks dangerous, but the rock doesn’t move and walking under it is a picturesque experience. You can also pop into the street’s small shops to see the houses from the inside.
Enjoy a drink under the rock
Bars and small shops sit side by side under the rocky riverbank in the centre. It’s a great place to enjoy a coffee or a tapa and a glass of wine while taking in the views and, not least, the local life of the small town. Especially in the mornings, the town’s elderly men meet over a glass of sherry while exchanging the day’s news. If you can speak a bit of Spanish, they’re very open to telling you about the city.
Setenil is known in the region for its good cuisine, and especially chorizo, pork and cakes, and the town’s bars are among the best in the region. The town’s farms also supply fruit and vegetables to nearby towns such as. Ronda.
Excursions from Málaga to Setenil
There are several companies that organise day trips from Málaga to Setenil with pick-up points in several other towns on the Costa del Sol. Malaga Trips, which combines the trip to Setenil with a visit to Ronda
More travel tips for Andalusia
A city break in Málaga or Seville or a visit to small villages? Find more travel guides and tips for Andalusia here