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The distinctive houses and businesses wedged under the rocks. Karl Smallman
Setenil de las Bodegas: 'seven times no'
THE STORY BEHIND A PLACE NAME

Setenil de las Bodegas: 'seven times no'

Academics claim that the suffix of 'de las Bodegas' dates from the 15th century, when new Christian settlers introduced vineyards

Friday, 19 May 2023

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Setenil de las Bodegas, a town in the province of Cadiz (north-west of Ronda), is unique among the pueblos blancos (white villages) of Andalucía, and is famed for its cave houses that seem to emerge from the cliffs above the Río Trejo.

Important archaeological sites have been discovered from the Neolithic period, and historians believe that the Roman colony of Laccipo was located in the vicinity of the town. However, the current town dates from the late medieval period, from a settlement called La Villa, an old Almohad town sheltered by the walls of its castle, around which its urban nucleus began to develop.

Setenil de las Bodegas. Karl Smallman
Imagen principal - Setenil de las Bodegas.
Imagen secundaria 1 - Setenil de las Bodegas.
Imagen secundaria 2 - Setenil de las Bodegas.

However, Setenil is a town with the least certified information on its past. According to the municipal historian, Ángel Medina Linares, there are "huge historical gaps over the last few centuries", and he says "we are not certain of the origin of the name".

Tradition dictates that the Castilian name of Setenil came from the Latin phrase septem nihil (seven times no), a reference to the Moorish town's resistance to the Christian Reconquest. The town, which was allegedly taken only after seven sieges, was besieged unsuccessfully in 1407, and finally fell in 1484 when Christian forces expelled the Moorish occupants.

Setenil de las Bodegas. Karl Smallman
Imagen principal - Setenil de las Bodegas.
Imagen secundaria 1 - Setenil de las Bodegas.
Imagen secundaria 2 - Setenil de las Bodegas.

Many academics, including the celebrated travel writer and historian, Michael Jacobs, claim that the suffix of 'de las Bodegas' dates from the 15th century, when the new Christian settlers, in addition to maintaining the Arab olive and almond groves, introduced vineyards. Jacobs claimed that "all the old houses in the village have wine cellars, because at that time the place lived largely off viticulture".

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