Presentation of the destination
Cuenca is a capital city of Cuenca province located in Castile-La Mancha, an autonomous community of Spain. This well-preserved medieval fortified town has a population of more than 57,032 inhabitants. With an area of 911.06 km2(351.76 sq mi), the city lies in the heart of the Iberian Peninsula on the steep gorge of the river Jucar and Huecar. The town was occupied by the Moors in 714. Alfonso VIII of Castille conquered the Moors in 1177 and Cuenca became a "Royal town". The city was famous for agricultural and textile manufactures during the 15th century. Cuenca is quite an impressive town home to a number of an amazing Medieval architecture and monuments. It is known for its Casas Colgadas or “Hanging Houses", a picturesque site in the city. Cuenca has a typical continental Mediterranean climate with very hot summers and extremely cold winters. The city experiences a pleasant and cool temperature during spring and autumn.
Points of interests / things to see
The Cathedral of Our Lady of Grace and Saint Julian, located in the heart of the Plaza Mayor, was constructed from 1182 to 1270. It was built by Eleanor, the wife of Alfonso VIII and daughter of King Henry II of England. This Gothic style Cathedral stands on a historic spot formerly occupied by an ancient mosque. The apse-aisle (doble girola) was installed in the 15th century and the Arch of Esteban Jamete was added to the Cathedral in the 16th century. In the 18th century, the new altar adorned with green marbles was created and was dedicated to Saint Jullian of Cuenca. The church facade was extremely damaged when the Torre del Giraldillo (bell tower) collapsed. It was renovated by Vicente Lamperez in 1902. An ancient baroque organs from Julian de la Orden, obtained in 2006 is located near the altar. Visitors can also explore its magnificent interior, the noble rooms, and the chapel gallery. It features an impressive open nave, and a Transparente, a Baroque work by Ventura Rodriguez. The Palacio Episcopal (Bishop Palace) constructed in the 13th century beside the cathedral is also something you should miss. The Cathedral of Our Lady of Grace and Saint Julian is a well preserved site attracting thousands of visitors every year.
The Bridge of saint Paul was constructed between 1533 and 1589 by a Dominican, Juan del Pozo. Spanning across the Huecar river, the bridge connects the historic town to the ancient monastery of Saint Paul. This monastery, built in the 16th century was also founded by Juan del Pozo and designed by Juan and Pedro de Alviz. The original stone bridge was deteriorated and eventually collapsed. It was replaced by a new 60 meters high steel bridge built in 1902. The Bridge of Saint Paul is absolutely one of the most outstanding features of the city. It offers a perfect view of the city's famous hanging houses and the lovely gorge of Huecar. There is also a bronze sculpture called El Pastor de las Huesas del Vasallo located at the end of the bridge. This sculpture was created by the renowned artist Luis Marco Perez to honor the sheepherds. You can also explore the historic Saint Paul Convent now known as the Parador. In addition to the spectacular views, visitors will also enjoy the truly relaxing atmosphere on top of the Bridge. It is the best spot for taking pictures of the city's picturesque sites. At night, you will appreciate the sparkling city lights from the Bridge of Saint Paul.
The Museo de Arte Abstracto Español (Museum of Spanish Abstract Art) in the city of Cuenca was opened to the public in 1966. The museum showcases a collection of over 515 pieces of paintings and sculptures from the famous Spanish artists in the 20th century. The museum is housed in an awe-inspiring Casas Colgadas (Hanging Houses). Situated on the top of the gorge of the Huecar river, this magnificent structures is believed to have been built in the 15th century. The Hanging Houses was renovated by architects Fernando Barja and Francisco Leon Meler to house the museum. It is home to a number of items and objects amassed by its founder Fernando Zobel. The museum has won a series of award including the Gold Medal for Merit in Fine Arts in 1980, European Museum of the Year Award in 1981, Castilla-La Mancha's Medal of Honor in 1991, and "Tourism Award” in 1997. In 1994, the museum has been expanded to housed more than 3,000 specialized books collected by Zobel. Temporary exhibition rooms was also added to the building. You can also enjoy a spectacular of the town view on the top of the museum. Museo de Arte Abstracto Español is one of the major attractions in the city of Cuenca.
The Museu de Cuenca (Cuenca Museum), located in the Casa Curato de San Martin was established in 1997. It is managed by the Foundation for Culture and Sports of Castilla-La Mancha. The three story building houses a collection that will take you to a journey of the city's long history. The first and the second floor showcases objects and items from the Roman Era, medieval, and modern times. It displays a number of ceramic pieces, utensils, statues, column capitals, precious metalwork and coins from the Roman provinces of Segobriga, Valeria and Ercavica. It also boasts of ancient Moorish artifacts including the episcopal altar from Segobriga, the Visigoth gold earrings from Albendea, Islamic column capitals, and many more. The third floor contains a Restoration Workshop, Photographic Laboratory, Screening Room and Temporary Exhibitions. The permanent exhibitions span from prehistoric times to contemporary art and culture. The marble sculpture of the Head of Lucius Caesar in Sala 7 is a notable feature of the museum. It was approximately created in 14 AD when the boy died at the age of eight years old. The museum offer a guided tour with clear explanation on the city's History. You will surely be swift back into the past as you explore the museum of Cuenca.
The Ciudad Encantada (Enchanted City) is a breathtaking geological site in the Serrania de Cuenca Natural Park. It is located in Valdecabras approximately 25 kilometers from the heart of Cuenca. It is home to a number of astounding rock formations dating back to the Cretaceous Era, about 90 million years ago. Originally a part of the seabed of Thetis, Ciudad Encantada is an example of a marvelous geological phenomenon. It was listed a Natural Site of National Interest on June 1929. The rock formations was designed and created over the centuries by the natural elements of wind, water, and ice. It features massive stone figures of humans, animals, and objects that will surely blow your mind. The famous formations are the Seta (Mushroom), Puente (Bridge), Cara (Face), Convento (Convent), Amantes (Lovers of Terue), and La tortuga (the turtle) just to name a few. The surrounding is grace with plants and trees including gall oaks, savin, juniper, box trees, bramble, and many more. You will also enjoy watching the flocks of sheep roaming freely in the area. Feel the thrill and enjoy the enchanting atmosphere as you explore the amazing Ciudad Encantada. The Enchanted City is a must-see spot when visiting the city and is truly worth the effort.
The Parque Nacional El Cajas (Cajas National Park) lies approximately 25 kilometers west of the town of Cuenca. Sprawling an area of 285.44 km² (28,544 ha), the park boasts of more than 270 lakes and lagoons. It was established in1977 and was declared a National Park in 1996. The park boasts of a great number of flora and fauna. Around 19 species of endemic plants can be found here including the straw grass (Calamagrostis intermedia). The quinua (Polylepis) or "paper tree forest” is home to a very rare Fuchsia Campii of the willowherb family. The park is a nesting place to over 157 species of birds including the Giant Hummingbird (Patagona Gigas). It is also home to a large variety of animals, mammals, and insects.
The Mangana Tower is an interesting structure located in the heart of the city. The paintings of Antoon van den Wijngaerde of the Mangana Tower in 1565 shows that it has been built in the 16th century. It suffers a devastating damaged during the Spanish Independence war against the French soldiers in the 19th century. The Mangana Tower was reconstructed in 1926 by architect Fernando Alcantara. The tower was designed in Neomudejar style with a huge clock on the front wall. Its bell chimes recording can be heard in the city every four hours. A perfect view of the town can be enjoyed at the top of the Mangana Tower.
The Museum de las Culturas Aborigenes (Museum of Aboriginal Cultures) is situated along the Calle Larga, down the hill of El Centro. The museum is housed in an old colonial building with charming courtyards. It has a collection of more than 5,000 archeological items including ancient pipes, bowls, pottery, sculptures, and a number of pre-Columbian art. The museum also displays religious relics and kitchen utensils dating back from 13, 000 BC. The Museo de las Culturas Aborigenes is open from Monday to Friday (09 am to 06:30 pm), and Saturday (09 am to 1 pm). There is also a bookstore and a small gift shop inside the museum.
The Diocesan Museum is housed in a Bishop Palace adjacent to the Cuenca Cathedral. It display a notable collection of ancient religious arts. Designed by architects Fernando Barja Noguerol, the museum showcases items and objects amassed by Gustavo Torner. There are a number of famous paintings including the “Oracion en el Huerto”, and “Cristo con la Cruz” by El Greco. You will also be amazed by the altarpieces, tapestries, metalwork, sculpture, and liturgical objects in the museum. It is also home to the remarkable Byzantine Diptych, a book-like silver work with saints' relics from 1370. Also on display are handcrafted old carpets from Cuenca's school and many more.
Vacation rentals in Cuenca (Castile-La Mancha)
How to get there ?
The Closest landing airport is the Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas Airport located in Madrid, approximately 167 km from the town of Cuenca. It is served by major airlines and offers International and Domestic Flights. For detailed information about the airport, please visit http://www.aeropuertomadrid-barajas.com/. Cuenca is only one hour away from Madrid if you travel by car. There are reliable car rental companies around the airport with reasonable prices. From Madrid, there are trains going to Cuenca four times a day with a maximum travel time of 3 hours. Auto Res also provides transportation service between the town of Cuenca and Madrid. There comfortable buses will take you to the heart of the city for only 2 hours with a minimum fare of €12. The Renfe Cuenca Rail Company connects the town of Cuenca to the nearby cities. Buses and Taxis are the only form of transportation within the town. The city is known for its excellent bus system and getting around is convenient. A couple of taxi companies operating in Cuenca offers a remarkably cheap prices. Another excellent way to explore the historic city of Cuenca is to travel by foot. It is always the best way to discover and enjoy the city's scenic landscapes, and unique architectures.
Hotels in Cuenca (Castile-La Mancha)