Thursday, 12 October 2023, 08:19
Throughout its national geography, there are areas that dazzle not so much for their traditional architectural beauty, but for their unique characteristics, exciting histories and the mysticism that surrounds them. When we think of Spain's picturesque villages our minds tend to wander to Andalucía’s whitewashed houses, lively squares and golden sandy beaches.
However, there is a lesser-known but equally fascinating side to Spanish villages, and National Geographic has shed light on some of the most unusual, with two located in Andalucía standing out as true gems: Soportújar in Granada province and Setenil de las Bodegas in Cadiz.
Before we delve into the details of these two Andalusian listings, let's take a look at National Geographic's complete list of unusual villages. In addition to the aforementioned Soportújar and Setenil de las Bodegas, we find unique spots that stand out for reasons that go beyond traditional beauty.
- Molina de Aragón (Guadalajara)
- Castellfollit de la Roca (Gerona)
- Roda de Isábena (Huesca)
- Sallent de Gállego (Huesca)
- Valpuesta (Burgos)
- Almadén (Ciudad Real)
- Petilla de Aragón (Navarra)
- Llívia (Gerona)
- Trasmoz (Zaragoza)
- Mendavia (Navarra)
- Camarena de la Sierra (Teruel)
Soportújar (Granada): The refuge of witches and Buddhists
At the foot of the Sierra Nevada Natural Park, in the heart of the Andalusian mountains, lies the picturesque village of Soportújar. While its strategic location along the Guadalfeo river would be enough to attract tourists, Soportújar is known for something even more extraordinary: its rich tradition of witchcraft and its spiritual link to Buddhism.
The village is shrouded in a halo of mystery that is accentuated by the imposing mountain that protects it. This enigmatic atmosphere is fuelled by the legends of witches and warlocks that have inhabited the region since ancient times. Places like the Enchanted Bridge and the Witch's Eye Cave invite visitors to immerse themselves in a magical and mysterious world. In addition, during certain months of the year, the entire town is transformed into a paranormal festival scene, with events and costumes evoking mystery and fear.
However, in a surprising twist of duality, Soportújar is also home to the O'Sel Ling Buddhist centre. Opened thirty years ago, this spiritual sanctuary was blessed by none other than the Dalai Lama, making it a place of pilgrimage and retreat for those in search of inner peace.
Setenil de las Bodegas (Cadiz): Built under the shelter of ancient rocks
In the province of Cadiz, Setenil de las Bodegas emerges as an architectural challenge. Here, the houses are not built on the ground, but directly under the rocks. This peculiarity resembles Greek mythology, where Sisyphus, condemned to eternally push a rock uphill, lived under its weight. However, far from being a condemnation, living under the stones has been a stylistic and functional choice for the inhabitants of Setenil.
This design, which in the past provided shade and coolness, has made Setenil an obligatory stop on the famous Route of the White Villages of Cadiz.
The narrow streets and houses carved directly into the limestone give the village a unique aesthetic, which attracts tourists from all over the world, eager to see this geological and architectural wonder. Moreover, although it may not seem like it, Setenil hides a lot of mysteries and abounds with legends of ghosts, of love, and of strange and dark beings in the night.
Andalucía, with its rich history and cultural diversity, is home to countless secrets and wonders. Villages such as Soportújar and Setenil de las Bodegas are living testaments to the human capacity to adapt, innovate and create beauty in the most unexpected settings. National Geographic has only confirmed what many already knew: Spain is a country full of surprises.
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