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White Village In The Rock

If you find yourself in Setenil de las Bodegas, don't look for dwellings where you might normally expect them to be. This little Spanish pueblo overhangs the Rio Trejo in the province of Cádiz, and it's here that you will find some of its inhabitants and their living spaces - in the rock itself.

In southern Spain, brilliant white is the traditional colour for housing that's decorated with iron grills and shutters. The difference in this particular pueblo blanco is that houses rise from the stone, with some having olive groves on their roofs. This unusual accommodation was constructed from the enlargement of caves or overhangs, with external walls on the side of the gorge. Typical Spanish exteriors peep out from under the overhang or sit with giant slabs wedged between them, covering the road like a bridge. The idea begins to make sense when you consider Setenil's history as a Moorish fortified town with a castle built in the 12th century or before. A picturesque setting that overlooked a bend in the river north-west of Ronda was ideal for defence, and earlier inhabitants probably thought so too, with the location being used for the same purpose during the Roman invasion in the 1st century AD.
Other cave-dwelling communities in the region were established over 25,000 years ago, so it's likely that Setenil de las Bodegas goes back a lot further than Roman times. Its name may date back to the 15th century Christian victory over the Moors which was achieved on the seventh try, septem nihil meaning seven times no in Latin. The new settlers added vineyards to the almond and olive groves cultivated by the Arabs, so de las Bodegas refers to the storage of wine under the rock. Unfortunately these natural cellars ceased in the 1860s due to an insect infestation in the vines. White Village In The Rock Setenil has moved on and nowadays is renowned for its meat products like chorizo sausage, and its pork from pigs reared in the vicinity. Vegetarians can take delight in delicious pastries, and can sample locally grown vegetables that are distributed throughout the region. The town has a lively feel at weekends and its restaurants enjoy an excellent reputation. You can drink in a bar hewn out of the stone or peer from a window set into the rockface like an eye.

Its 3,000 citizens have discovered that like stone cottages, the thick walls of their homes are cool beneath summer's hot Andalusian sun but warm in the mountain air of the winter months, making the town an ideal destination for the tourists that visit all year round to experience this blend of modern and prehistoric materials.

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