Cuenca Travel Guide
Cuenca is a fabulous little city with a magnificent fortification, artfully built into the top of a rocky ridge that rises between two gorges, those of the Júcar and Huécar rivers, in central Spain. Its most striking feature is its "hanging houses" – ancient homes with protruding balconies that literally cling to the edge of the ridge, seemingly to the face of the cliff, "hanging" high above the valley. Switchbacks cut into the cliff connect the city to the valley, and a 16th-century suspension bridge, the Saint Paul Bridge, rebuilt in the early 20th century, spans the Huécar gorge, some 40 meters above the river, offering stunning views of Cuenca's old town and its hanging houses.
Cuenca is situated in the Castilla-La-Mancha region, roughly midway between Madrid and Valencia – 166 km east of Madrid and 200 km west of Valencia – with high-speed rail links to the capital city.
Cuenca is actually two parts, divided by the river Huécar: the old town and the "new city." The old town dates from around 714 AD and overlooks the "new city" to the southwest, which is itself more than 300 years old. The principal interest lies in the old town, which is thoroughly captivating with its random narrow streets lined with centuries-old buildings. Among the main draws here are the city's 12th-century cathedral, arguably the oldest Gothic-style cathedral in Spain; El Castillo, an ancient Arab castle; and Plaza Mayor, which has on it Cuenca's Baroque town hall. Among the city's museums, the Museum of Abstract Art is of greatest interest, as much for its location as for its art collection, housed in the 15th-century Las Casa Colgadas, or hanging houses. And then there is the old, 16th-century Saint Paul Convent, situated across the Huécar gorge from the old town, but worth the effort to see.
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