Setenil, the town of caves

Enjoying a sunny afternoon in Setenil de las Bodegas Credit: Andrei Dimofte Creative Commons

The word troglodyte has one or two somewhat unfavourable meanings but it was originally used to simply describe someone who lived in a cave.

The Spanish Flintstones perhaps

It is believed that the Spanish town in Cadiz Province, now known as Setenil de las Bodegas was first settled some 12,000 years ago in the Stone Age and the inhabitants found that the many caves there made very acceptable homes.

Like so many other areas of Southern Spain, the area was taken over by the Moors about 1,300 years ago and they built a fortified town with a castle (and its restored tower still exists) and used the caves for storage.

As the Christians regained the whole of the area, so a new generation of ‘Spaniards’ moved into the area and for some centuries the caves were used by the poor as homes but times change and now they have been taken over by businesses.

It is a tourist attraction and visitors (generally those who don’t suffer from claustrophobia)  flock to the area and enjoy walking along the two main streets, Calle de Sol (Sun) and Calle de Sombra (Shade) stopping for a drink or bite to eat at one of the many bars and restaurants which are basically built into the caves.

Choose between shade and sun

On a warm day, with the Rio Guadalporcún running through the town,  it is easy to close your eyes and imaging life in Medieval times, provided you can phase out the sound of vehicles, other people chattering and music.

There is plenty more to see in Setenil de las Bodegas but in reality, it’s the concept of walking along a street that is covered by a huge millennia old slab of rock which encourages visitors and helps employ a good percentage of  the 3,000 residents of the town.

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Written by

John Smith

Married to Ophelia in Gibraltar in 1978, John has spent much of his life travelling on security print and minting business and visited every continent except Antarctica. Having retired several years ago, the couple moved to their house in Estepona and John became a regular news writer for the EWN Media Group taking particular interest in Finance, Gibraltar and Costa del Sol Social Scene. Currently he is acting as Editorial Consultant for the paper helping to shape its future development. Share your story with us by emailing, by calling +34 951 38 61 61 or by messaging our Facebook page