Setenil de las Bodegas, one of Andalucia’s most charming and unique white towns, in southern Spain
Photo credit: @duudpic
Setenil de las Bodegas is a town (pueblo) in the province of Cádiz, Spain, famous for its dwellings built into rock overhangs above the Guadalporcún River.
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. Its blinding white houses seem to emerge from the rocks, and some have rock roofs and even olive groves on their roofs.
The town's Castilian name is believed to have been taken from the Roman Latin phrase "septem nihil" (seven times nothing), referring to the seven times the Catholic rulers tried to take back the territory from the Moors, the medieval arabian inhabitants who ruled much of Spain for several centuries.
The full moniker "Setenil de las Bodegas" dates from the 15th century, when its new Christian rulers developed an agricultural base of olives, almonds and vineyards.
Believe it or not, people chose to settle here for practical reasons. The natural caves of Setenil turned out to be ideal living quarters because rather than needing to build entire houses to keep out the heat in the summer and the cold in the winter, all they needed to build was a facade. In some places it appears as if the rocks are literally falling into the buildings themselves.
With its distinctive setting along a narrow river gorge, the town was declared Conjunto Histórico-Artístico (Historic-Artistic Grouping) in 1985.