A Guide to Cuenca – Castilla La Mancha, Spain
Cuenca is an enchanting medieval city, declared Patrimony of Humanity by UNESCO since 1996.
It is a very well preserved medieval city with many examples of religious architecture that stem from the 12th to the 18th century. It is divided in the old town, famous because of its unique situation on the edge of a perpendicular precipice and the modern part is situated at the foot of the rock.
Cuenca owns some of the most important monuments of the entire region.
The city centre, remarkably beautiful, is presided over by a magnificent Gothic cathedral. Other attractions not to be missed include the Archaeology Museum, the church of ‘San Miguel’, ‘Conde de Toreno’, ‘Torre Mangana’, the City Hall building – ‘Seminario Conciliar’ and the Abstract Art Museum.
However, Cuenca is best known for its 14th /15th Century ‘hanging houses’ (casas colgadas). The Old part of the city is hemmed in on three sides by a deep gorge that has been carved out by two rivers. Along the cliffs of the gorge, a number of houses hang precariously on the edge. It truly must be seen to be appreciated in full. One of these houses is the Museum of Spanish Abstract Art and is one of the finest of its kind.
In the back end of the Cathedral (near the ‘Museo de Arte Abstracto’), there is a pedestrian bridge that crosses the gorge. The bridge provides an excellent view of the hanging houses and gives one a real feeling of the depth of the gorge.
In its surroundings, there are several fantastic natural preserves, among them Ciudad Encantada, the ‘enchanted city’, where erosion has created some truly bizarre forms. Interestingly, each formation comes with its own name, such as the Elephant or the Human Head. These can be found approx. 30 km from Cuenca.
Places of interest in Cuenca
Torre de Mangana
Here you will find the ruins of one of the cities most notable monuments: ‘Torre de Mangana’. It lies on the site of an ancient Arabian fortress and dates back to the 16th century.
San Pablo´s Bridge
Said to be perhaps ‘the most outstanding bridge in the city’. It was used to cross from the old part of the city to the ancient Monastery of the Dominicans. It is 100 meters long and nearly 44 meters high. Its points of origin are from one part of the hills to the other part on the mountain in front. It has 5 pillars more than 40 meters in height, coming up from the deep river below.
Virgin of the Light Church
The style of this church is ‘rococo’, a special type of baroque and as well as being a pleasant tourist attraction there is a legend that accompanies this enchanted building: the legend goes that in the 16th Century Alphonso the 8th actually saw the Virgin and decided to build a church. Today this Holy place is the church for the Saint protecting the city.