SETENIL DE LAS BODEGAS, situated in the North East of CADIZ Province is an elongation of the RONDA basin and named after the once flourishing wineries. Setenil is set in a gorge, with the Rio Trejo running along the bottom. The town is built on either side of the river, with many of the houses seeming to grow out of the side of the mountain itself, while others hang precariously to the side of the river gorge.
As you approach the town from this side you enter into a world of cliffs towering over one side of the road with the remains of two cave houses for which SETENIL has become known.
No one knows for sure just how long there has been a settlement here but it is estimated that it is well over 25,000 years, with prehistoric man, the cave dwellers known as troglodytes taking refuge in the network of caves.
These caves with their startling white frontage, leap out at you from the cliffs and are now home to bars, restaurants, houses and even a bank, and when you enter SETENIL you are in a world of cliffs towering over you. At the bottom of the village walk along the narrow streets with the river Trejo on one side and the other has the first of the cave houses. Make your way to CALLE JABONERIA, or soap street, believed to be where the women of the village went with their soap and washing to use the water of the river. CUEVAS DEL SOL, the sun caves, Cuevas de Sombra, the shadow caves and yet another where amazingly you drive through the very cliff itself with house built into each side.
Modern SETENIL dates from around 1484 towards the end of the Christian Reconquest when the Moors were finally expelled. The Christians took 15 days to expel the Moors from the now ruined castle but the town is said to have derived its name from the Roman Latin phrase, "septem nihil" seven times no, which obviously relates to earlier battles.
The cuisine in SETENIL has its own distinctive flavor due to the extra pure olive oil produced here, and its meat products in particular chorizo and sausages are extremely popular. Climb towards the Plaza de Andalucia where there are ruins of the Moorish castle, only the minaret and water cistern at the foot are well preserved. The Iglesia Mayor built, in the 15th century houses many artifacts and a robe donated by the CATHOLIC KINGS to celebrate the first Mass.
The Patron Saint is San Sebastian whose feast day is 20th January, and La Ermita de San Sebastian lies at the top of the hill just outside the village. Legend says this small, Gothic shrine was built at the time of the conquest to commemorate the birth of the premature son of QUEEN ISABEL who was named Sebastian and died a few hours after birth.
The 16th July is the feast day of the Patron, NTRA SRA CARMEN, whose small shrine, Ermita Nuestra Senora del Carmen, dating from the 18th century lies to one side of Avda del Carmen.
SETENIL is stunning, beautiful and a photographers dream. As you leave take the road between SETENIL and RONDA look for a small signpost to Bodega Las Monjas (former nunnery). This produces the excellent red wine PRINCE ALFONSO, which is named after the late PRINCE ALFONSO DE HOHENLOHE who founded the bodega and the original haunt of the famous JET SET, THE MARBELLA CLUB.
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