Setenil De Las Bodegas – Setenil de las Bodegas, Spain - Atlas Obscura

Setenil De Las Bodegas

Setenil de las Bodegas, Spain

A Spanish town built into the cliffs. 


Setenil de Las Bodegas seamlessly marries man and nature.

Built directly into the rocky cliffs surrounding the town, its whitewashed houses melt into the rolling hills of Andalucía. It is only a town of 3,000 people, but Setenil de Las Bodegas has played an important role throughout Spanish history.

There is record of people living in the town since the Roman invasion 2000 years ago. Although inhabited, Setenil de Las Bodegas was not developed until the 12th century by the Moors, who used the cliffs as natural protection to fortify the city.

During the Christian Reconquest, the Moors held the city against repeated Spanish attacks. According to some translations, Setenil de Las Bodegas refers to seven attacks from the Spanish on the town. The Moors withstood six, and finally lost the cliff-side stronghold on the seventh.

Other translations hold that the name refers to the underground storage facilities used to hold the locally produced wine, which has become a major tourist draw to the quiet town. Whatever the translation, most travelers make their way to Setenil de Las Bodegas for the rocky setting. Boulders hang precariously between many of the winding streets, often creating natural roofs for the homes and stores.

Most amazingly, one large overhang covers an entire block of white houses, providing shade and natural cooling during warm summers in southern Spain. Even more remarkable are homes built on top of the overhang, giving the town layers of houses separated by natural rock formation. On a walk through the town, the cliffs and homes work together so naturally, it is difficult to see whether the town formed around the boulders, and vice versa.

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