While in Spain, we drove to Setenil de las Bodegas. Prior to this visit, I had never heard of this place. It was my husband’s idea to visit this small town based on an online photo he had seen. When I saw the photo, there was no doubt in my mind. So, instead of driving to Gibraltar, we took a detour to Setenil de las Bodegas.
It was only an hour and forty-five-minute drive through winding mountains, cliffs, and narrow roads. We took the back roads to enjoy the views and it was a lonely but lovely ride. Once we arrived, we had to park about 2 miles from the main entrance to the popular streets of “Calle del Sol” and “Calle de la Sombra”
Setenil de las Bodegas is a place like no other. Established in the 14th century, Setenil de las Bodegas’ whitewashed houses and shops are built into the cliffs. The roofs are the overhanging cliffs and the inside of the home/shops are rock walls. They are small but are so well planned and designed so there’s no need for more.
There’s a river, “Rio Trejo,” that divides the two main roads. One side of the river is Calle Cueva del Sol (Sun Street) where the cliff overhangs the residences and shops, but it’s not enclosed. On the other side of the river is Calle Cueva de la Sombra (Shade Street). Here the cliffs are on both, right and left side of the street and it’s basically a pass-thru cave with residences and shops on both sides. Even though these streets are very narrow, they are open to vehicle travel but it’s only for residents.
The place was crawling with tourists. I can only imagine the resident’s frustration while trying to get to work through the congested road in the morning. We arrived at about 11:00 a.m. and it was already packed with tourists. But at the same time, I’m sure they embrace the visitors since there are so many Mom & Pop shops, restaurants and souvenir shops along both roads.
We had lunch at La Dehesa (Museo del Jamon y El Vino) restaurant locally owned. It was a simple fresh-cut “Iberian ham” sandwich and coffee. The ham is sliced right in front of you – one of the best in the area. The restaurant is small but cozy with a decoration appropriate for the area.
Other shops, like “La Cueva de la Sombra” (Shadow Cave) is just a natural canvas. Its only decorative items are the plates they sell hand-made by the local artists. And the locals are one of the nicest people around. It was a wonderful day at an amazing place. I will definitely return to Setenil de las Bodegas and highly recommend you do too.