Small Town Built Underneath A Rock In Cadiz Province Described As One Of The ‘Most Curious Towns In Spain’

Image of Setenil de las Bodegas in Cadiz.

Image of Setenil de las Bodegas in Cadiz. Credit: Luis Rogelio/Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0

A small town located in the Cadiz province of Andalucia is considered to be one of the ‘most curious’ towns in Spain.

Setenil de las Bodegas attracts hordes of visitors every year, all fascinated by the town’s picturesque image. There is also the added sight that many of its dwellings were built into an overhanging rock above the Rio Guadalporcun.

The prestigious National Geographic magazine recently included this town of less than 3,000 inhabitants in its travel section, ranking it as one of the most curious towns in Spain. It sits just 157km (98 miles) northeast of the capital city of Cadiz Province.

The town was likened to the tale of Sisyphus from Greek mythology

In his description, the journalist José Alejandro Adamuz likened Setenil de las Bodegas to the tale of Sisyphus from Greek mythology.

Sisyphus was forced to carry out the punishment of carrying a gigantic stone up a hill. When he dropped it and the stone rolled back down the hill, Sisyphus had to start all over again.

His eternal penalty was to live under the weight of that stone. Although the residents of this town also live under a large rock, they are not being punished he pointed out.

Many of its homes are built into the rock

To say that Setenil is a town underneath a rock is not an exaggeration because virtually every house there is built in the shelter of the rock that juts out above it.

It is located in a distinctive setting along the narrow river gorge, and the houses extend along the course of the Rio Trejo. Some of the houses are actually built into the rock walls of the gorge itself. This was achieved by enlarging the existing natural caves or overhangs and simply adding an external wall.

Meat products, particularly chorizo sausage, are a famous local delicacy, as is the pork that comes from pigs bred in the surrounding hills.

Along with its meat, the town has a reputation for producing fine pastries. Its bars and restaurants are also ranked among the best in the region.

The majority of the fruit and vegetable supplies of Ronda and other municipalities in its vicinity come from the outlying farms of Setenil.

Historians believe that the locals deliberately decided to build their homes inside a rock because it provides natural shade during the hot summer days of Spanish summer, which then retains the heat in the winter.

Over the years, the little Andalucian town evolved from a fortified Moorish settlement. Setenil reportedly got its name due to wineries that were once built inside these rocks, with ‘bodega’ meaning wine cellar in Spanish. Nowadays though, the residents of Setenil mostly focus on producing olive oil, almonds, and wine.

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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at


    • Molly Little

      26 September 2023 • 13:30

      Please check the distance from the Capital.Is the Capital Madrid,Cadiz or Seville?

      • John Smith

        26 September 2023 • 17:01

        Thank you for your query and we have updated the article to make it clear that it’s the capital of Cadiz Province that is being referred to.

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