Could you live in the ‘Hanging Houses’ of Cuenca, Spain?
I certainly couldn’t
The ancient Old Town of Cuenca in Spain, is perched high above two imposing gorges with the rivers of Júcar and Huécar flowing below. The daunting site of the houses appearing to almost cling to the rock face is quite amazing.
Although we are in Castile–La Mancha home to the expansive plains of Spain, Cuenca certainly is a contrast to that.
The historic walled town of Cuenca was inscribed onto the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1996. Particularly for the number of the well preserved architectural buildings that remain, all along the cobbled streets.
Across the ravine
The Parador de Cuenca, which was a former 16th century convent of San Pablo, sits on the east side of the canyon, along with the Church of San Pablo. The church nestled at the far end of the old convent, was completed in the 18th century and displays wonderful Rococo style façade.
Not for the faint hearted
Well if you have managed to get to the Church of San Pablo, then you wouldn’t have failed to have noticed the Bridge of San Pablo. I am quite good with heights but the structure and the gaps in the wooden slats across the bridge didn’t feel me with confidence.
The Casas Colgadas (Hanging Houses) are astounding, they are probably the most symbolic view in Cuenca.
Built over the Huécar gorge in the 15th century, the buildings appear to precariously cling on to the side, with their balconies protruding even further out.
Winding through the lanes up to the Plaza Mayor, you are greeted at the south end by the Baroque style town hall, supported by arches.
The Cathedral of Our Lady of Grace, which sits at the north end of the Plaza Mayor is one of the first Gothic style cathedrals in Spain.
Although the cathedral dates back to 12th and 13th centuries restoration has meant that today there are elements of Renaissance, Gothic and Baroque. The striking façade was rebuilt due to deterioration in 1902.
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Calle Julian Romero
This meandering lane guides you along the side of the city and offers some stunning views across the Huécar gorge and to the convent and church of San Pablo below.
Keep climbing as the scenery is certainly worth it, you come to the ruins of the El Castillo, an ancient Arab fortress.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much remaining other than an arch, a tower and part of the wall, but equally from the top you can see for miles.
Calle San Pedro
Wandering back through the centre of the old town along Calle San Pedro, you’ll be amazed by the number of historical buildings, statues, curious doorways and alley one after the other.
Also along Calle San Pedro you will come across a church of the same name. The charming Church of St Peter with Romanesque origins, was rebuilt in the 18th century and had a Baroque façade added at this time.
From the outside San Pedro’s appear to be octagonal, but once you step inside it is actually circular.
For €1 you are free to wander the church and climb the tower, if you wish.
Heading down to the Plaza de la Merced, you’ll find some more lovely examples of Baroque architecture, including the seminary of San Julián built in 1745 and the Church and Convent de la Merced.
Just around the corner you will come across Plaza de la Torre Mangana, which is home to a former watchtower ‘Mangana Tower’.
All in one day
There is certainly enough to keep you busy for a day in Cuenca, but if you are able to stay overnight all the better as some of the buildings look wonderful of an evening.
Our accommodation for the 2 nights we were in Cuenca, was at the Parador de Cuenca. This hotel (once convent) is in a wonderful location with views across the Huécar gorge. If you suffer from acrophobia then this hotel is probably not for you, as you have to cross the San Pablo bridge to get into town (or a very long walk around).
The hotel had its own enclosed parking and with Parador’s ‘Amigo’ discount we parked in the garage for €8.
A point to note
Word of warning, there are non-hotel employees around trying to help you park, just politely say no.
Off we now head further north to Logroño
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Visited Cuenca? Brave enough to walk across Bridge of San Pablo?
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