We had an early morning start at 8 am as it was a 2 1/2 hour drive and I must admit we were a little worried that it was going to be a repeat of yesterday, as once again there was heavy fog. Luckily as we got closer to Cuenca the fog lifted.
Cuenca (pronounced Quenca) is a magical sight, standing dramatically above the Rio Huecar gorge with its famous “hanging houses” clinging to steep, rocky slopes. There is free parking once you drive through the city near the ruins of the Castillo, which coincidentally also offers fantastic views over the city and bridge from a nearby outlook.
Its an easy down hill walk through the city gates, with amazing views over the gorge to reach the town centre.
Cuenca is a medieval town first settled by the Moors because of its defensive position and remains a beautiful, medieval fortified city and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is easy to spend a couple of hours wandering its cobblestone lanes, town square, cathedral and brightly coloured mansions. There are many quiet corners and picturesque alleyways waiting to be explored and of course fantastic views along the way.
From the town centre we wandered back uphill a small way to reach the ‘hanging houses’. The hanging houses or Casas Colgadas are a set of three buildings that were constructed in the 15th century on top of a wall of natural stone, in order to maximise the living space in Cuenca during the middle ages. The balconies of the houses are made of wood and stone and protrude over the gorge. Today one of the houses is a Museum of Spanish Art and is open to the public, where you can get a glimpse of the interior of one of these homes and the view over the gorge. Entrance is € 3.
We continued on to the San Pablo Bridge, a beam bridge made of iron and wood and constructed in 1902. The 60 metre long bridge links the city of Cuenca and the Convent of San Pablo, now called the Parador Cuenca (a hotel). The San Pablo Bridge replaced the original bridge that was made of stone, between 1533 and 1589, that collapsed after a heavy snowstorm. The bridge offers one of the best views of the hanging houses.
San Pablo Bridge
City of Cuenca and the Parador Cuenca (Convent of San Pablo)
After lunch we drove about 1/2 an hour to reach Ciudad Encantada (Enchanted City) which is located in a canyon within the Serrania de Cuenca National Reserve. The Enchanted City is a series of unusual rock formation that were formed over the centuries by ice, wind and water.
After entering the park you are given a map which directs you through the most famous of the rock formations which have been named after humans, objects and animals. Some are much more recognizable than others. The walking route takes about an hour and half to complete the 3 kilometers and is not particularly strenuous. How many of the rock formations can you recognize?
The rock formations here are the face, the seal and two bears.
By favourite rock formation was the convent, not because it looked like one, but because of the way the light was hitting the rock.
Surrounding the rock formations is a range of vegetation including oaks, juniper, box trees and bramble. Ava spotted this interesting cobweb in one of the trees.
- 25th March – 22nd June: 10 am – 8 pm │ 23rd June – 2nd September: 10 am – 9 pm │ 3rd September – 16th September: 10 am – 8.30 pm │ 17th September – 30th September: 10 am – 8 pm │ 1st October – 27th October: 10 am – 7.30 pm (I have emailed about winter opening times)
- Adults – €5 │ Over 65, children aged 8 – 12 years – €4