Tag Archives: Setenil de las Bodegas

Setenil de las Bodegas

Setenil de Las Bodegas

Setenil Cave Village
For many thousands of years Setenil de las Bodegas has been occupied, possibly for as long as people have been using the Cueva de Pileta, though it wasn´t until the age of the Phoenicians and then Romans that the village was first mentioned in texts.

Always eclipsed by nearby Acinipo, Setenil was nothing more than a warehouse for storing goods that were traded with other parts of Iberia or the rest of the Empire. It was during this time that archeologists believe the caves were first closed off with brick walls to prevent thieves from stealing goods produced in the area.

After the fall of Acinipo (and the Roman Empire) in 495AD, Setenil´s fortunes changed as the village was forced to convert the warehouses into homes.

For many hundreds of years Setenil was a quiet almost ignored village, a mosque was built after the Islamic invasion of Iberia in 711AD, and it wasn´t until the 1200s when Christian advances had taken Cordoba and Sevilla that Setenil finally became an important frontier post.

So critical was its position that 7 separate attempts were made to capture the town, however the castle was built to be impregnable. It stands at the highest point of the village and one of the two towers remains along with the well.

Next to the ruined castle stands the largest church in the village, Our Lady of the Incarnation, built in the last years of the 16th century and completed around 20 years later. It includes a gothic vaulted ceiling and ribbed vaults.

Within the church there is a chasuble, a vestment worn during Mass which was presented to the people of Setenil by the Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella to commemorate the first Mass in the village after the it fell to their armies.

The rest of the castle was demolished by cannon on the 21st September 1484, a momentous occasion in the Christian reconquest of Andalucia, which directly led to the fall of Ronda one year later, and then Granada in 1492.

Also not to be missed in Setenil, and of course the main reason people visit, are the homes, shops, and bars that occupy the caves. Unlike other cave villages, most of Setenil has not been enlarged, the caves have simply been closed in.

Visitors often wonder how safe the people of Setenil feel living under the rock, but villagers will tell you the village has existed for many years so it must be safe, though the truth is they prefer not to think about it.

Lesen sie mehr über Setenil de las Bodegas

Cycle the Mountain Roads of the Serrania de Ronda

Cycling from Ronda and around the Serrania

The Ronda area is a cyclists delight and challenge, with spectacular views, and treacherous hill climbs as well. In fact the Serrania is a popular training destination for cyclists preparing for long distance road races and triathlons.

For holiday makers we have a choice of route length, from 30km to 130km, some of them relatively easy to complete, and others aimed at professional cyclists who know their capabilities.

Regardless of the route you choose however, you’re absolutely certain to enjoy the views. The Serrania is amazingly diverse within a small area, we have river basins and valleys, rocky mountains, and long stretches of flat windy roads.

Look up as you ride and you’ll see vultures, eagles, and other birds of prey, or keep looking for mountain goats and deer. Almost every turn in the road presents vistas that will take your breath away.

From Ronda, shorter rides will take you to Arriate on a loop that is only 30km, or if you have the energy, take a longer ride to Setenil and Acinipo. Professional cyclists should attempt the run to Grazalema and then across the mountain top to Zahara de la Sierra, or the breathtaking route to Gaucin, perhaps with a detour to Genalguacil.

CycleRonda recommend the following routes (13-54km) from Ronda on a road bike;
1. Arriate
2. Setenil-Cuevas del Becerro
3. Faraján-Cartajima in the Genal Valley
4. El Burgo through the Sierra de las Nieves
5. Benaoján-Atajate
6. Acinipo-Setenil

For Mountain bike enthsiasts these routes (13-40km) are fun;
1. Pilar de Coca
2. Puente de la Ventilla
3. Parchite & Arriate
4. Genal Valley or the Guardiaro River
5. Lifa and El Burgo

Finally, professional cyclists should ask about longer road routes (30-144km);
1. Setenil-Cuevas del Becerro
2. Faraján-Cartajima
3. El Burgo-Ardales-El Chorro
4. Acinipo-Setenil
5. Zahara-Palomaspas-Grazalema
6. Grazalema-Ubrique-El Colmenar
7. Benaoján-Atajate
8. Atejate-Algatocín-Jimena de la Frontera

cortijo-perla-blanca

Cortijo la Perla Blanca – Stylish Bed and Breakfast Accomodation

Located outside Ronda on the road to Seville, in the fertile valley known locally as Los Prados, the Cortijo is a gem of an authentic Spanish style Cortijo.

Owners, Dutch couple Erwin and Meinalda are new to the Serrania de Ronda but fell instantly in love with its beauty and above all with the Cortijo itself. Moving from their native Holland the couple have opened up the Cortijo to turn it into a stylish, modern, yet country style bed and breakfast accommodation, with views of the surrounding countryside and the mountains of the Serrania de Ronda.

When you enter the Cortijo the driveway takes you past an immaculate vineyard and on to the landscaped gardens that surround the Cortijo itself. The Cortijo is quintessentially Spanish in style; simple yet elegant, and the large front door opens onto a spacious airy entrance hall, which features a wide marble staircase, that leads onto the upper floors, where the four double ensuite bedrooms are to be found. On the ground floor there’s a spacious lounge / dining room area where guests can relax in the evenings with satellite television on large, comfortable sofas. There is also a large dining table where the ample continental style breakfast is served every morning.

As with many Spanish Cortijos there is a beautiful “Patio Andaluz”  an enclosed courtyard that is dotted with potted lemon trees and flowers. With a relaxing water feature on one wall and acacia trees dotted throughout, its definitely the perfect place to take time out and enjoy the atmosphere of this exquisite piece of  traditional Spanish way of life.

Outside on a raised terrace there is a large pool that has plenty of room for cooling off in the hot summer months and just relaxing on the loungers with a cool drink in hand. It’s also where Erwin and Meinalda will hold weekly barbecue sessions where they plan to treat guests with locally sourced meats, the Serrania is well known for its high quality Iberian pork and wonderful free range beef, all garnished with vegetables from the in-house organic vegetable garden.

The rooms themselves are all spacious double rooms with twin beds and a modern style ensuite bathroom. Each has been individually and tastefully decorated following a subtle colour scheme. There is also air conditioning and heating throughout the Cortijo, so there’s no need to feel the extreme heat in the summer months or the sometimes colder temperatures of winter.

The Cortijo is open all year round for bookings apart from December and January to make a reservation or general enquiries ring  0034 951 166 085 or see the website at www.cortijo-perla-blanca.com

Cycling the Via Verde

Cycling on the Via Verde

By TRISTAN CANO author of Historic Walking Guides: Gibraltar

The Via Verde de la Sierra is one of 20 so-called ‘green routes’ which chart a trail of disused railway lines across Andalucia. Forming part of a proposed rail route across the Cadiz Sierra between Almargen and Jerez de la Frontera, it would have connected the cities of Malaga and Granada. Although much of the groundwork, including tunnels, viaducts and railway stations were completed in the early 1930s, the project was never finished and lay in neglect until 1993 when the line was renovated for use as a walking and cycling route.

We started our day in the town of Olvera where we were staying in the charming Casa Andalus on Calle Maestro Amado. Like many of the other white towns in the vicinity, Olvera’s roots are Roman and the town went on to flourish during the Muslim occupation of Spain. It has a Moorish Castle constructed on a rocky crag high above the town which, like parts of our own Moorish castle, was built during the 13th Century Nasrid Dynasty. Some of the original Moorish walls and their supporting buttresses remain intact, but most of the Castle was built after the reconquista. Another noteworthy building in the town is the twin-towered neoclassical church of Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación whose impressive façade dominates its surroundings and was built on the site of a former mosque.

Cycling the Via Verde

We followed the short though steep path from the town centre down to the Antigua Estación Ferrocarril which marks the starting point of the Via Verde. This hotel offers bicycle rentals and is the last opportunity to pick up refreshments before you reach the Estación de Zaframagón, 15 km along the route. The reasonably flat terrain makes the route perfect for cyclists and we opted to hire bikes, although plenty also chose to follow the route on foot. We were immediately impressed with the scenery, a distinct patchwork of brown and green fields with endless olive tree groves looking like blobs of green paint on a watercolour just asking to be painted. The Via’s thirty tunnels are a feature of the journey and we overcame nine of these before reaching the first official rest-stop at Estación de Navalagrulla. Although we had enjoyed a slight downward gradient thus far and barely broken into a sweat, we would be following the route in reverse on our return later and enjoyed a welcome respite, noting the need to conserve as much energy as possible.

As we got closer to the Estación de Zaframagón, the landscape began to transform from arable land into forests of Spanish Firs. We were transported through mountains and river valleys with the help of immense viaducts and increasingly lengthy tunnels. The viaduct at Zaframagón offered inspiring views of the Peñón de Zaframagón, an impressive 584m-high limestone outcrop with sheer cliffs, and the verdant valley below strewn with delightful stone ruins. Overhead we saw our first venue of about a dozen Griffon Vultures. Two hundred breeding pairs live in these mountains and there is a nature centre dedicated to them at the nearby Estación Zaframagón which includes a video feed showing live footage of the vultures on the opposing rock face. The centre closes daily at 16:00 and a vending machine, which is available until that time, provides another opportunity to get much-needed refreshments before reaching the town of Coripe.  Although we had originally intended to end our cycle at the Zaframagón we were feeling relatively spritely and decided to soldier on to the next Estación.

The Guadalete and Guadalporcún rivers join at around the 26 km mark of the route but the Guadalporcún meanders alongside the cycling track all the way from Zaframagón to the Estación de Coripe which has also been transformed into a hotel and restaurant. There is not much happening in the town of Coripe itself which is about 2 km from the track however a small diversion from the Coripe Viaduct takes you to the Chaparro de la Vega. This supposedly 700-year old Holm Oak of enormous dimensions is an Andalucian National Monument and plays its part in local traditions by providing a meeting point for the villagers of Coripe on their annual pilgrimage during the Fiesta del Virgen de Fatima, their patron saint.

Following Estación de Coripe, the route continues to the third and final hotel at the Estación de Puerto Serrano which adjoins the town of the same name. However having already cycled 22 km we were acutely aware of the 200 metre height climb on the return route and set off on the arduous journey back to the start. About 2 hours later and with tired legs and saddle sore beginning to rear its painful head, we arrived at the hotel at Olvera, dropped off our bikes and were happy to place our feet firmly back on terra firma. Our walk back to town was slow but pleasant, not only for the sense of achievement we felt for having completed our long cycle, but also due to the beautiful purple and pink Sierra sunset that accompanied us on our way. We were aware that our legs would soon be stiffening up, so grabbing a quick shower at Casa Andalus, we headed out for an early dinner at the lively Restaurante Lirios before retiring to what was always going to be an excellent night’s sleep.

Offerings at the Ermita de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios

Though predictably sore and stiff from the previous day’s cycle, we opted for an early rise and a trip to the Ermita de Nuestra Señora de Los Remedios which overlooks Olvera from a nearby hill. This sanctuary, built on the site of an 18th Century hermitage is apparently visited by 300,000 devotees each year who bring offerings to the Señora in fulfilment of their vows. The interior of its colourful chapel is a pastiche of numerous gaudy styles dominated by a shocking amount of gold plating, and stands adjacent to stunning courtyard overrun with potted plants. A room upstairs was undoubtedly the most interesting, housing the devotions deposited by visitors: hundreds of photos, items of clothing, locks of hair and numerous other knickknacks set down often in memory of long passed loved ones.

Next on the agenda was the village of Zahara de las Sierra where the remains of a castle recall its day as a Moorish outpost. Despite its small size (population of about 950) thousands of visitors are attracted to Zahara each year by its picturesque setting perched atop a mountain, overlooking a valley and a man-made crystal blue lagoon. After a quick photo stop, we moved on to Setenil de las Bodegas, possibly the most unique town in the area. After driving through twice, we finally managed to find a parking space to explore this fascinating town where many of the houses are built into the walls of a huge mountain gorge. Setenil shows evidence of human occupation for at least 2,000 years but was possibly occupied by troglodytes long before then.

Olvera can be reached either via Ronda (taking the E-15/AP-7 in the direction of San Pedro de Alcántara and then the A-397 to Ronda, followed by the A-374 and following signs for Olvera) or via Jerez (taking the A-381 to Jerez/Los Barrios/ Seville and then the E-5/AP-4 to Seville, before taking exit 80 towards Arcos de la Frontera). Casa Andalus is a ‘self-catering’ house which can be booked by calling Karen/Andrew on +34 951276249, mob. +34 689665342). Bicycles can be rented at the Antigua Estación Ferrocarril hotel at the start of the Via Verde at the price of €15.00 per day.

Photos from Olvera’s Via Verde

Master Bedroom

Casa Andalus, Self-Catering Holiday House in Olvera

Olvera is known as “the King of the Pueblo Blancos” (white towns) and it was declared a Protected Area of Artistic and Historical Importance in 1983. It is a friendly town with a population of around 10,000 and has all the amenities you will need to enjoy your holiday including numerous shops, banks, internet cafe, bars and restaurants. There is also a municipal swimming pool and bar which is open during the summer months.

The town is the perfect base for you to explore this beautiful unspoilt area of Andalucia. There are many places to visit within an hour’s drive including Seville, Jerez de la Frontera, Ronda and Antequera. If you don’t mind driving a little further you can visit Cordoba, Cadiz or Malaga. Closer to home, the stunning villages of Grazalema, Zahara de la Sierra, Setenil de las Bodegas and Montejaque are well worth exploring.

The countryside is varied and stunning with olive groves, rolling hills, lakes, mountains and woodland. Olvera is also the starting point for the Via Verde de la Sierra (green way) one of the many disused railway tracks across Andalucia which have been renovated for use as walking, cycling and horse-riding routes. Bicycle hire is available from the hotel at the start of the route, or you can enjoy an escorted ride on one of the horses from the riding stables next to the hotel.

Casa Andalus is a newly reformed town house in the old part of the town. The ground floor consists of a cosy lounge with satellite TV and Bang and Olufsen sound system. Downstairs there is also a small bedroom with single bed. There is a good selection of books and CDs for you to use. On the first floor is a bright, well equipped kitchen/dining room which has a small balcony overlooking the street.

Also on this floor is a double bedroom with fitted wardrobe and air conditioning unit together with a brand new en-suite shower room. Both the bedroom and the shower room enjoy stunning views of the hills and olive groves surrounding Olvera. Stairs from the kitchen lead to a large terrace which has amazing countryside views on one side and the Moorish castle and neo-classical church on the other side. On the terrace is a large bathroom with full suite.

Casa Andalus is within easy walking distance of shops, bars and restaurants and of course the beautiful church and castle. Despite being in the middle of the town, the house is quiet and peaceful and as both bedrooms are at the back of the house, there is very little traffic noise to disturb your sleep.

Smoking permitted on the terrace or balcony only.

Prices – low season – 225.00 euros per week, high season – 275.00 euros per week
Short breaks (minimum 2 nights) – 50.00 euros per night
Longer lets also available – please enquire for details

Contact Karen/Andrew on :-
Landline – 0034 951276249 Mobile – 0034 609665342
Email – karenandandrew@hotmail.com

Gallery of Casa Andalus Holiday Home Photos