Setenil de las Bodegas not only has a sonorous name, but this white town in the Sierra de Cádiz region is also one of the most beautiful in Spain, according to many of the tourists who until the covid put up the full poster every day in their charming accommodations.
Beauty aside, what no one can deny is the originality of this enclave where many of its homes, hotels, rural houses or businesses have been carved into the rocky walls of the gorge that forms the Guadalporcún River when it crosses this town at 640 meters of altitude. “An astonishing urban stronghold, an unlikely alliance between architecture and geology”, was defined by the Cervantes Caballero Bonald award.
9.00 Start at the top
The Setenil tourist office (1) It is located at the top of the town, and the reason to start the visit in this old 16th century town hall is also to admire its Mudejar coffered ceiling, unique in the province and that shows an inscription with the date on which its fortress was seized from the Arabs by the Catholic Monarchs in 1484. Almost adjacent, the House of the Lady of Setenil (2) It houses a small history museum whose masterpiece is a tiny Venus over 5,000 years old, discovered in excavations at the end of the last century.
11.00 Almohads and Christians
After a good breakfast in the restaurant The Lizón (3), in the beautiful and well-kept Plaza de Andalucía, it is time to ascend to the top of Setenil by the steep Villa street (4), cross the old arch of the same name and enjoy the pure air of the mountains before visiting the tower of tribute, rest of what was an Almohad fortress from the 12th century and later Nasrid. Under the monument, a cistern from that time still stores rainwater. In the same street it stands Our Lady of the Incarnation (5), a late Gothic church with Mudejar reminiscences and some Renaissance influence, built in the 15th and 16th centuries on a mosque.
12.30 pm The ruins of Acinipo
A pleasant road that enters the municipal area of Ronda leads to the Acinipo ruins (6) (951 04 14 52; open from Wednesday to Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.). It is about 10 kilometers from Setenil and, if you prefer, you can walk or cycle along the so-called Ruta de los Bandoleros. These remains tell us about a Roman city that had its heyday at the end of the 1st century, but whose antiquity dates back to the 3rd BC, according to Ptolemy and Pliny the Elder. Of this city built on a Neolithic settlement there are still vestiges of the hot springs, the wall and its theater, with the stands dug into the rock and in good condition.
Back in town, the center invites you to stroll through some of its most typical white streets, where geraniums hang in their pots, and encased between rock fragments and remains of the Arab wall: Smithy – staggered and flanked by cave houses – the impressive Calcetas (7) and Mina, that treasures the Coracha deposit, fragments of a medieval structure that facilitated obtaining water in times of siege.
15.00 Eat in the sun or in the shade
When trying the gastronomy of Setenil, you have to go to the two streets located on both banks of the Guadalporcún and which are the most repeated photo: Caves of the Sun (8) and Shadow Caves (9). In these narrow roads (the first, facing south, receives more light and heat, and in the second the sky is the stone of the pit) the houses, bars, restaurants and shops are in caves excavated centuries ago in the rock , which facilitates the conservation of heat in winter and cool in summer. They were inhabited for at least 5,000 years, according to the utensils and objects found. The bars The task and Lucy, in Cuevas del Sol, or Sun and shadow and The small house, In Cuevas de la Sombra, there are some of the places with Setenilian specialties: the Cortijera soup, based on bread with olive oil, asparagus and egg; the crumbs with chorizo, the scrambled eggs with blood sausage and, for dessert, various sweets washed down, of course, also with oil from these lands. In the middle of the afternoon you can return to this street to take a look at the product store gourmet The Dehesa del Iberico, which sells hams and sausages, Jerez wines, local cheeses and typical sweets.
18.00 Troglodyte dwellings
The alleys in the center wind around the river, which is crossed by several bridges built between the 15th and 17th centuries. In a walk you can visit the churches and hermitages of that same period such as Saint Benedict (10), the sailor Our Lady of Carmen (11) and San Sebastian (12) (the first built after the taking of the city and consecrated to this saint for having given birth to Isabel la Católica in Setenil to her son Sebastián during the siege of the town, according to legend). To the north, the winding streets of the Jabonería and its prolongation Goats they are as picturesque as those already mentioned, or even more so, for their troglodyte dwellings. The Bandit Here it offers a good terrace on the river to have a drink at sunset.
20.30 Rich fish for dinner
At dinner time, the terraces of the Cuevas del Sol restaurants, such as Frasquito, La Bodeguita O The School, they tend to fill up in spring and summer. All offer affordable menus with local dishes. A good alternative to get out of the center is The Nogalejo (Alcalá del Valle road, kilometer 1), which has earned a good reputation for its fish and seafood dishes.
22.00 Room with views
To end the night the Ginco (13) It is the favorite of the locals for a drink. It also serves take-out cuisine. At bedtime, another of the charms of this town are its beautiful rural houses integrated into this special environment. One option is The Tagus (14), in Cuevas de la Sombra, an accommodation with two apartments, views of the river and the caves that face the Sun, and with rock fragments as a roof.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.