In Pictures: Roman Ruins of Acinipo in Spain 🚗 a Stop on the Road to the Alpujarras

Here’s our travel-day 5 of 23 days, in pictures. . . First stop: a Roman site in Spain of retired soldiers–you know, those dudes with “SPQR” tattooed on their arms, a long time ago? . . . And, of course, some ramblings on the road again in Spain, on the way to Las Alpujarras, on our family camping road trip number 4.

A brief rest on a foundation of an ancient retirement home of Roman legionnaires in southern Spain. Note: Karol is wearing the “verde, blanca y verde” colors of Andalucia!

The day after visiting “set Anil, The libuse Killers bodegas” [note another brilliant AI-generated transcription for “Setenil de las Bodegas”] and , of course, more swimming pool time for the kids, we rushed to the Roman Ruins of Acinipo in southern Spain–about 15 minutes away. So this settlement is like, how should I put it?, a retirement home on top of a hill founded by retired soldiers of Caesar’s Rome.

Acinipo–a strategically located Roman ruins in Spain with a Domus, theater, thermal baths and stunning views.

Roman Ruins of Acinipo

This remnant of a Roman village turned into an ongoing archaelogical site was founded by retired soldiers who chose this location likely for its defensive features, located about 10 kilometers southwest of Setenil de las Bodegas, accessible via a narrow but paved country road.

From the looks of it, they must have chosen this hill strategically because on the other side of the theater is a cliff steep with a steep drop, making an attack from behind almost impossible. And from the front? A rolling uphill climb from all sides.

A somewhat long uphill climb to the theater. First stop: the DOMUS (main house) with foundation and parts of walls still intact after over 2,000 years.

It might have been a home for retired officers or a general because they had a small theater at the highest point on the hill, complete with what looked like a walkway and holding cell for gladiators and animals, and a stage as the centerpiece. They had thermal baths, separate quarters for cooking and storage and the huge house (Domus).

The ancient theater at a Roman ruin in Spain. . . in Acinipo, founded in the 2nd/3rd B.C. “It’s there before Jesus!,” some say.

Climbing to the top of the hill was not easy, especially for us parents. And yet it was worth it. From that vantage point, you’d be rewarded with amazing views of the fields cascading down around the village, even the mountains or the sierranitas far in the surrounding background.

Cordillera Ibetica (or is it Iberica?)–over the cliff and far away. This is one of the stunning 360-degree views that reward visitors who make it up to the top of the hill.

It was established in the second-third century B.C. (before Jesus’ was even born), and you could see the columns that provided the foundations of the main buildings. Three of those columns were still standing. Well, at least the foundation of a column and also the huge boulders cut up into rectangular Square pieces. Still intact. Still standing. I mean, they’re still there after all these years. Imagine that!

Now, that’s my kind of retirement home–with a theater and stunning views for one of those cool, breezy Andalusian nights of long ago. . .hopefully they weren’t all just former soldiers without the womankind!

Near the entrance, there’s some kind of a prehistoric hut or “cabana” of the iron age that looked like a stone yurt with a fireplace and a stone walkway leading up to the door. It looked like it predates the Roman’s retirement home. Sign says it was there in the 8th/9th century B.C. Didn’t have much time to check it out. We were sort of in a hurry to get in and go up to the hill.

The western stone wall, past the theater, where you can walk no more because. . . hell, it’s a steep fall down the cliff on the other side, making attacks from marauding tribes near-impossible, if not costly. Hey, those retired SPQR officers were smart.

On the way up, there were a lot of thorny dried plants that pricked the boys’ skin. Nothing major. Just tricky. It’s a difficult climb for our 5-year-old, Kaj. But he didn’t give up and it’s all good. I told him and his older brother, Karol, stories about, you know, Roman soldiers, ancient Rome and Italian food. . . like Pizza, peperoni, pasta. . . ; )

Ahhhhhh. . . togas out and let it all hang out! With a view like this on a hot Andalusian summer, who wouldn’t?!?!? Amazing how, over 2,000 years later, you can still see the perfectly preserved outline of these ancient Roman baths, with some columns still standing. “How did they get the water up here though?,” a little one next to me asked.

Children asked a lot of questions about Romans. Like how the Roman empire ended. How did it end? How did the Roman Empire? How and why are they here? How did they build this? What is this? What is that? Karol, in particular, was trying to form his questions carefully. The Roman ruins really piqued their interest.

FREE entrance at this Roman ruins of Acinipo in Spain. Be advised: you cannot bring drones (for those of you who are thinking of getting those cool aerial shots), dogs and tripods. No smoking nor picking flowers (or anything for that matter) too. Parking is just outside, on the other side of that gate.

And then that was it. A grand experience out of a small detour. We got the 45-minute rushed tour of the site and a 15-minute drive out of the way to get back on the road to the alfajores–No, ALPUJARRAS!

Free Entrance, Parking & Logistics

To make the visit even sweeter: ENTRANCE was FREE! Lulled by the swimming pool with their Argentinian friends back at the camping ground, the bboys did not want to leave and we were not gonna make this secondary target-of-a-visit. But we made it with mere minutes to closing time. And, thanks to a very nice gentleman, we were able to visit the grounds unhurried. . . and use the single-person, clean bathroom/WC too! That’s important on the road, you know!?

FREE entrance at this Roman ruins of Acinipo in Spain. Openning hours from 9 am to 230 pm. Open in the summer but closed on Mondays and Tuesdays–hey, man, they gotta have some kind of weekend too!

The road to the Roman ruins was not bad. It’s paved all the way up. At some places, there were some overgrown bushes that go around the bend, making driving a bit trickier on this narrow two-lane, winding, mountain roads.

Parking up front, no problem. Unfortunately, there were not a lot of things to read about the site and settlement. It would have been more impactful to have something substantial and informative. Maybe over time the provincial government will develop it into a little museum. For now, hey it’s free and nobody’s paying for it. So, enjoy it as it is! Make up the rest. . . for your children’s wild imagination.

what to do near the Roman Ruins of Acinipo

Visit the white-washed cave houses built under the rocks, on the rocks and around the rocks in Setenil de las Bodegas–one of the most beautiful pueblos blancos (white villages) of southern Spain.

So, what else is there to see or do nearby? With the following recommendations, you can easily spend at least 4 days here, more if you wanna have some relaxing visit.

  • Setenil de las Bodegas--this is the top place to see in this area with its whitewashed houses tucked under the cliffside rocks, on the rocks and even in the rocks, with a hilltop Arab fortress. There’s an impressive view over the town and the countryside from the Torreon tower. There’s also a museum that exhibits the cultural and natural history of the town.
  • About 11 kilometers is a village called Torre Alháquime with a Moorish castle and cemetery.
  • Alcalá del Valle–7 kilometers north of Setenil is the last village, supposedly, along te Route of the White Villages and serving as a bridge between the provinces of Cadiz and Malaga and their respective Costa de la Luz and Costa del Sol.
  • Algodonales–a sleepy little town with all the charm that a sleepy little city tucked in the sierras that’s well worth it a visit. For you FLAMENCO GUITARISTS/TOCAORES, there’s an artesan guitar maker here called Benny where you can get top of the line, one of a kind flamenco guitars. Located about half-an-hour (or 26 kilometers) drive west into the area for paragliding.
Setenil de las Bodegas–one of the most beautiful towns of Spain. View from the Casa de la Damita–a museum that does not have much to offer except the image of that precious little lady taken from the excavation that was supposed to symbolize Mother Venus.

ROAD RAMBLINGS (notes from the road)

arrival mileage: 347.5

09:25. Day 5 on the road to the Las Alpujarras. First, tear down camp. This seems like camping where kids work. Heard a grandma in the caravan area say to their kids, “If you girls want to go to swimming pool, you’re gonna have to wash the dishes first.” Almost exactly what I tell my kids. I guess that’s old-school child-rearing for you and it’s not just that one person.

There’s also another another group of family with kids who did just that. At one point there were six kids there, plus a cat, all lined up washing dishes. My older kid, Karol, was washing his brother’s pajama that they spilled milk on because they were horsing around. Meanwhile Kaj, the younger one, was clearing the tent. Funny how that whole area was full of kids working.

When done, the boys played with their newfound camping friend Santi and his sister Lucia. We met this couple from Argentina who had two kids, a five year old and an eight-year old; almost the same age as my boys. They moved from Argentina to a small village about 20 kilometers near Valencia.

They came in this normal-sized camping RV who’s at Camping El Nogalejo with the husband’s aunt and her husband. The auntie speaks Italian who lives in Florida and married to a Cuban.

Interesting meet-up and stories. The husband talked about how unstable Argentina is, that there are so many murders, robberies and “asesinos” (assassins). They have their own “empresa” (business) in Buenos Aires. They’re actually running it from Spain, on the road as digital nomads. They have workers to coordinate, and clients, and all that stuff. So while at camp they were on the telephone most of the time, even at the swimming pool.

During moments of interruption, where we could actually speak, the husband added that he is stuck with the technical people while his wife deals with the administrative people, and it’s practically non-stop. The Cuban uncle and the Floridian wife were also both working in the caravan. While the kids had freedom and fun. . . with Karol and Kaj!

Anyway, that’s their story there in a short amount of time that we had together as camping neighbors. A connection triggered by gift-giving. Karol and Kaj gave their kids, Santi and Lucia, gifts of toys. We were inspired by the Dutch family we met in Santiago de Compostela. At every camping site stop, when kids meet other kids and come to say goodbye, we give gifts of toys or candies.

I think it’s a great tradition; one that (hopefully) teaches the kids a habit of sharing and kindness.

Anyway, enough about that. Late check-out was allowable at Camping El Nogalejo because pretty much there was nobody there. Really, not a busy place. The boys wanted to stay in the pool with their friends. We finally got out rushing it at 1:30 or something that, for a 15-minute rush drive to see the ancient “Roman ruins of us at Sea nipple” (this another great AI-generated transcription for “Roman ruins of Acinipo”).

On the first real leg of our fourth family camping, road trip, we went from camping in the pine trees in Bolonia to camping under an “anciano” (ancient/old) olive tree at Camping El Nogalejo in Setenil de las Bodegas.

where to Camp in Setenil de las Bodegas

There’s a great camping site called Camping El Nogalejo that’s about as close as you can get to Setenil. It is likely one of our favorite camping places, if it weren’t for the heat which usually just hits us first thing in the morning right around 8:30 or 9 o’clock because we did not position our tent efficiently. Super-clean modern WC/bathrrom with with prefabricated dividers and all the blings! A completely modernized camping experience under really old old olive trees. And NO, we are NOT getting paid for mentioning them!

Check out our review, with pictures, of family Camping El Nogalejo in Setenil de las Bodegas.

First half of free electrons family camping road trip number 4, from Jerez de la Frontera to Andorra la Vella.

Next Stop: Playa de Maro on the Road to Las Alpujarras

Onwards, upwards. . . . to Andorra! Here’s the first half of our family camping road trip. . . number FOUR! 1,617-something kilometers from Jerez de la Frontera, detour to Bolonia, then Setenil de las Bodegas, the white villages of the Alpujarras, the caves of Guadix, Baeza, Ubeda, Ossa de Montiel, the hanging houses of Cuenca, Lake Caspe and finally the little country of Andorra. . . at least for the first half of this trip!

Thanks for checking us out!

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