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Setenil In Spain: A City Built Under Huge Rocks

Setenil de las Bodegas is a city located in the province of Cadiz, Spain. According to the 2005 census, the city has a population of 3,016 inhabitants.The main attractiveness of this village is the beauty
PTI February 11, 2011 19:50 IST
Setenil de las Bodegas is a city located in the province of Cadiz, Spain. According to the 2005 census, the city has a population of 3,016 inhabitants.

The main attractiveness of this village is the beauty and originality of its urban framework set within a huge mountain gorge.

People have created dwellings by chipping away at the mountain's base adding an external wall. The village below is moulded along the course of the local river Trejo with houses being built into the mountain.

Named after its once flourishing wineries - bodegas - Setenil is probably unique among the pueblos blancos, white villages, of Andalucia. 

Where most pueblos blancos were built on protective bluffs and pinnacles, this town grew out of a network of caves in the cliffs above the rio Trejo north-west of Ronda.

Its blinding white houses seem to emerge from the rocks, and some have rock roofs and even olive groves on their roofs.

There has been a human settlement here since at least the Arabic Almohad period in the twelfth century.

Given the evidence of other nearby cave-dwelling societies, such as those at the Cueva de la Pileta west of Ronda, where habitation has been tracked back more than 25,000 years, it is possible that Setenil was occupied much much earlier.

Most evidence of this would have been erased in its continued habitation. It was certainly occupied during the Roman invasion of the region in the first century AD.

Setenil was once believed to be the successor of the Roman town of Laccipo, but it was subsequently proved that Laccipo was indeed the origin of Casares.

The town name is believed to have been taken from the Roman Latin phrase "septem nihil", "seven times nothing", a phrase possibly linked to earlier invasions or skirmishes.

Besieged in 1407, to no avail, the fortress was seized only after seven sieges.

The seventh, successful siege, lasted 15 days and required the use of the most modern weapons of that time; due to the strategic location of Setenil, the victory caused a great buzz in Castile and was the source of several legends.

Queen Isobel is said to have aborted during the siege, the St. Sebastian Hermitage being therefore built as a tribute to this child named Sebastian; there is, of course, not the least historic evidence of such an event except in the local folklore.

Modern Setenil begins in 1484, relatively late in the Christian Reconquest, when the Christian armies expelled its Moorish, Granada-led Nasrid rulers. It took the Christians fifteen days to expel the Moors from the (nowadays ruined) castillo, castle, at the top of the town.

In 1501, SetenilSentenil de las Bodegas, is derived from the fact that huge warehouses (“bodegas”) were constructed to store produce.

The full name Setenil de las Bodegas dates from the 15th century, when its new, Christian, rulers developed an agricultural base of olives, almonds and vineyards.

 The first two still flourish on the hills and rooftops of Setenil, but its wine trade was wiped out by the phylloxera insect infestation of the 1860s, which effectively destroyed most European vine stocks.

Over the intervening centuries, Setenil also gained a reputation for its meat products, particularly chorizo, sausage, and cerdo, pork, from pigs bred in the surrounding hills.

As well as meat, it has a reputation for producing fine pasteles, pastries, and its bars and restaurants are among the best in the region. Its outlying farms also provide Ronda and other local towns with much of their fruit and veg.

It is a popular Spanish destination where tourists are welcome to get acquainted with people who like living under a rock.

Most of the houses in this small village are carved directly in stone, which is why the small town gets it unique look and attraction of people from around the world.

It is one of the most unusual place you will ever see, it is the town where nature and people live in harmony.

It is located at a height of 640 meters and at 157 kilometers from Cádiz, southwestern Spain.

Most of the houses in this small village are carved directly in stone, that is why the small town gets it unique look and attraction to people from around the world.  

What is more the city offers amazing wine, world-famous delicacies like chorizo and cerdo, and fascinating hiking trails.

The 3,000-odd inhabitants here  seem to be stuck between a rock and a hard place.  

When they enter their houses, they see rock face; when they stroll through their city, they walk on rocks.  

Has the city been hit by a meteor and if not what caused its unusual construction?

las Bodegas, about 18 km away from Ronda in the province of Cadiz, has wedged itself between the cliffs eroded by the Rio Trejo river.  

The old houses especially are built under the cliff overhang and the newer ones against the hillside.

People remain cool in this hottest region of Spain by whitewashing their houses every year, as white reflects sunlight best.

The reason people choose to live here is pragmatism, more or less.  

The natural caves at Setenil proved perfect living quarters, it is believed since pre-historic times.  

Instead of having to build a whole house and insulating it against heat in the summer and cold in the winter, many rock caves just needed a façade and voila, there was a house in tune with nature!