Monday, 28th September 2020

This Month's Magazine
A weekend away in the cave village

A weekend away in the cave village

Wherever do I begin? Setenil de las Bodegas is only about 10 minutes drive from Ronda and yet still relatively unknown to many here on the coast. It's a photographers dream.

Finding it as I did, by accident when taking a wrong turn at the crossroads, just 1Km from the village, was a great stroke of luck. I have since returned several times and still find more interesting things to see.

Sentinel is one of those settlements whose origin remains much of a mystery, even to this day. Firstly, its dark-roofed caves take us back to prehistoric times, when our primitive ancestors took refuge here. Even today, with today's modern services, people are still living in these caves. The backs of the houses are hollowed out of the mountainside and this means temperatures remain constant. In Roman times the village was known as Laccipo. Its present name is of Arabic origin.

From 1484 onwards, the village has been associated with many famous characters and it possesses an equally impressive historical-artistic heritage.

Tour of the Village
After parking my car at the bottom of the village, I stood in awe at the sight of the shops, bars and houses with their fronts protruding from a cave. Taking a short walk, I was taken aback by the sheer way these houses were so deeply set into the mountain and at one point the road passes through a cave with houses on both sides, a really impressive sight.

Deciding that the village was worthy of a closer look I traced my way back to the car and drove up the steep winding road thinking that this was the main road to the centre. Reaching the top, what a surprise I had in store, when all at once I looked as though I was going to enter into a crater! On my left side was lush green vegetation and the gentle ripple of running water whereas to my right, house after house, showing an abundance of flowers and the white façade of each seeming to try to better the next home. Many of the houses have extended terraces with fantastic views.


The day that I visited was showery, so I thought I had better see as much as possible while the sun was out.

Continuing along the road, I realised just how far down I had gone because the village was now high above me. Very few of the houses on this route are not built in a cave, as I began to climb again, I noticed many smaller caves, used for storing or shelter.

Soon I reached the top of the road and entered the village through an impressive gateway into the centre. After parking in the "Plaza de Andalucia", I was able to walk-about the small town.

From the square, I could look down into the rows of houses and shops. Even the bank is set in a cave. Some of the streets had information about their history and of course this made it so much more interesting. Several very smart restaurants are in the cave. I was told that restaurants use a very special extra virgin oil to give a distinctive taste to their various dishes.

Driving back down the very narrow street, I had to drive through the cave mentioned earlier and I could not help but think how little this has changed throughout the centuries.

Once at the bottom of the village I took the main road that skirts Setenil and started to climb again. What a view from here! My camera was soon in action again snapping towards "El Torreon del Homenaje y las Murrallas" (The Tower of Worship) that proudly commands a prominent place at the v highest point of Setenil. Much evidence of the Romans is found in this area and at nearby Acinipo are found some of the most important Roman remains in Southern Spain. The largest amphitheatre and stage outside Italy is still in remarkably good state.

This part of Andalucia offers some of the best scenery in Spain, a short drive away is the Grazelema National Park but that's another story for another day.

Setenil can be reached by car or bus from Ronda or, for those who like something different, by train from Malaga, Algeciras or San Roque on the famous "Slow train to Bobadilla".

Truly the sights I encountered have brought me back to this stunning unusual place, so why not add this to you weekend destinations?

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