One of the most unique villages to visit in Andalucia is Setenil de las Bodegas. This white village is famous because some of its houses have been built into and under rock overhangs. Below is my guide to help you explore this pueblo blanco.
Navigate back to the complete Andalucia Travel Guide
This article may contain affiliate Links (info on the Disclosure page). If you purchase using my link, I get a commission at no extra cost to you.
Why visit Setenil de las Bodegas?
Andalucia has many charming white villages scattered throughout the region. They are all worth a visit and it is difficult to choose where to go as you plan your itinerary. I think Setenil de las Bodegas should be included in your visit. It is not the only places where houses are built into a rock cliff. But it is particularly impressive in Setenil because of the overhang. It is part of the Route of the white villages in the Cadiz Province.
It is also famous for is meat products, especially the chorizo sausages.
Here is a picture to give you an idea of what to expect.
And below is a short video to give you an idea of what a visit to Setenil de las Bodegas can include. However, note, that it was raining heavily when I visited, so my images are limited and not the best quality. I was drenched!
Planning Tips - Setenil de las Bodegas, Andalucia
How to get to Setenil de las Bodegas
- Setenil is located in the area surrounding Ronda and is often visited when staying in Ronda on your Andalucia road trip
- Ronda to Setenil de las Bodegas = 30min drive
- Seville to Setenil de las Bodegas = 1h45 drive
- Malaga to Setenil de las Bodegas = 1h20 drive
- Cadiz to Setenil de las Bodegas = 1h45 drive
- The area is mountainous but the roads to Setenil are easy
- If you don't want to drive, there are day trips combined with Ronda from Malaga, Cadiz or Costa del Sol - See options
- Setenil is included in my road trip guide to help you plan your itinerary:
Plan your perfect trip around Andalucia!
- 7 easy-to-plan Maps
- 150+ pre-selected scenic locations
- Planning tips to make the most of your time
- 300+ large photos to decide where to go
- GPS coordinates direct to the carparks
- It is a touristic place. I recommend visiting early morning or late afternoon to avoid the busses coming from Ronda, Malaga and Costa del Sol
- Plan 1 hour to half a day
- There are several areas to park. The carpark close to the interesting part of the village is often full and you may have to walk 5min extra.
- It is quite easy to walk around the lower part - some climbing is required to reach the castle area
- Many shops and tavernas
- There are a lot of signposts to get oriented
Where to stay
- There are some accommodations directly in the village of Setenil de la Bodegas. You can even stay in a troglodyte house - Check out the best rated options
- Otherwise you can stay in the bigger town of Ronda as a base to explore the region - check out the best rated accommodations in Ronda
- I stayed in the city center at Rondacentro apartment (with carpark which is critical in Ronda). It was beautiful and very practical - Check out photos and availability
Access, Getting around & Setenil Map
Setenil Map - points of interest
Before entering the village, make sure you check out the touristic maps listing all the best streets and other points of interest.
The 2 most famous streets are just next to the entrance, so you don't have to walk far.
Once inside the famous area of Setenil, the lower roads are easy to explore.
The ground is ok and there are no stairs. You will find signs indicating the various interesting streets (calle) and viewpoints (mirador).
However if you want to reach some mirador or go to the castle, then you have to climb stairs or walk up a hilly street.
History, Troglodyte houses & restaurants
A brief history of Setenil
Setenil has had continuous habitation until today, so it is difficult to say when it started being occupied. But since caves in the area have evidences of people inhabiting them more than 25000 years ago, it is most probable that Setenil was too.
It flourished as a fortified city under the Moorish rule. The castle dates at least from the 12th century. It is located on a bluff overlooking the Rio Trejo river, thus making it a critical fortified position not far from Ronda.
It was besieged many times and fell under Christian rules in 1484. It apparently took 15 days to capture the castle.
From then, they introduced vineyards and the name became Setenil de las Bodegas (bodegas meaning wineries). Setenil comes from the latin "septem nihil" which means seven times nothing, referring to the many sieges it took to capture the town.
About the troglodyte houses
People chose to settle in Setenil for practical reasons. The natural caves are ideal because:
- you don't need to build the whole house just the façade and walls between houses
- it keeps the heat out in Summer
- and it protects from the cold in Winter
Some of them are now restaurants serving the delicious local meat and tapas.
Best Streets in the rock village of Setenil de las Bodegas
Calle Cuevas del Sol
This is the main street of Setenil, right at the entrance. There is a series of restaurants with terraces that are built under the rock.
The street is along the river so you can really see the overhang of the rock and the houses built under. It is quite impressive, and you can enjoy the view from various angles.
This street will be the busiest but as it was raining when I visited in November, I was not bothered by crowds. It might not be as enjoyable when full of people.
Calle Cuevas de la Sombra - Setenil de las Bodegas rock
Before continuing further into the village, make sure you cross the bridge over Rio Tajo to discover the most impressive street: Calle Cuevas de la Sombra.
I have often seen troglodyte houses, so the first street was nice. But this street was the most impressive one.
You have houses on either side and the giant rock above your head.
I had a hard time believing it and imagining how it was built and organized.
This is why Setenil is often referred to as the town under rock.
As you make your way towards the castle, you may walk on Calle Jaboneria.
Here the houses are a little bit taller as the rock overhang is higher. These houses are still inhabited.
Jaboneria means soap shop. The name is most likely due to the existence of a soap market or factory or maybe because this is where women used to come wash clothes.
The narrow street climbing towards the fortress is Calle Herreria.
The name Herreria probably comes from the fact that it had, at some time, a blacksmith's forge.
This is one of the oldest streets and one of the most fascinating. Because on top of being built under the rock, the houses are adapted to the slope of the hill.
In this street one of the houses is also a small private museum for you to discover how it is inside. Sadly, it was closed when I visited.
Best views of the Pueblo Blanco Setenil, the village under rock
Setenil is most famous for exploring the town and seeing up close the houses under the rocks.
But it also offers some splendid views of the overall white village, you should not miss.
Mirador on Calle San Sebastian
The easiest viewpoint to reach is on one of the main streets. There are a few parking spaces and from the sidewalk, you can enjoy the view as per the picture below. You are aligned with the higher part of the town.
Calle Ventosilla Alta
In my opinion this is the best street for views of the whole village. You are higher than the main street.
However note that the street is quite narrow and there are no areas to park. So better to climb there on foot.
From here you can see the river, the castle, the white houses and the olive trees of the region.
Mirador del Carmen
Inside the village, you can climb the 93 stairs to Mirador del Carmen (street aligned with Calle Cuevas del Sol).
The staircase is steep but the view is worth it.
As you can see in the picture above and below, you have a grand view towards the castle and one of the cliffs. Plus, you can look down over the river and see the houses against the rock.
Castillo (Moorish castle) & other things to see in Setenil
The Castle of Setenil
Overlooking the village is the Castle of Setenil. It was built at a strategic position over the bend of Rio Trejo.
Today it is in ruins. There is still a tower, a cistern and over 500m of wall.
It is believed to be from the Almohad period (12th century and can be referred to as Nazari castle.
When open, you can climb the 3 levels of the tower to enjoy nice views of the village.
Old Town Hall
Even if you don't need touristic information, you should enter this building from the 16th century. It has a beautiful wooden ceiling.
Churches and Hermitage
If you are interested there are also many religious buildings in the village to visit:
- Church of Our Lady of the Encarnación - next to the castle, it is made of 2 churches one of Mudejar style and one of Gothic style.
- Church of Our Lady of the Encarnación - at the Mirador del Carmen - from the 18th century
- Hermitage of Saint Sebastián - not in the town center but located in one of the highest parts of Setenil. Built in the 15th century.
- Hermitage of Saint Benito in the city center - it is not known when it was built but it was renovated and modified during the 19th and 20th centuries.
Want to see more of ANDALUCIA?
Fascinating, isn't it?