It Rains In Spain

Guide to Cuenca

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Guide to Cuenca Spain

Guide to Cuenca – Introduction

Sitting like a great vessel riding a rocky outcrop in dusty Castilla La Mancha, Cuenca is a truly underappreciated and undervisited town. Were it in a more tourist driven area, Cuenca would be hailed as a gem, a must see hill top town full of character and romance. Yet, it’s not, and that is to the advantage of the interested traveller. With it’s incredible hanging houses seemingly ready to drop off the gorge, a pretty historic core and amiable locals, Cuenca is fabulous spot to stop off in.

Much like many of the hilltop towns in Spain, the origins of the city and it’s impressive location are Islamic. Although the town was inhabited before, it wasn’t until the Muslim invaders arrived that Cuenca became a truly strategic post, and heavily fortified. Cuenca never rose to the heights of similar strategic towns, however and even to this day, Cuenca retains a heavy air of provincialism.

The main attraction, of course, are the Casas Colgadas (hanging houses) that sit on the edge of the precipice seemingly ready to tumble into the abyss at any moment. Their origins are relatively unknown, but there are records of them exisiting in Cuenca as early as the 15th century. Nowadays, as well as being a huge tourist draw from the outside, they have been remodelled into a smart restaurant and an abstract art Museum.

Guide to Cuenca – What to do, in a nutshell

  1. Wander up to the historic centre and across the Puente de San Pablo (San Pablo Bridge), looking back on yourself to grab the best view in town of the Hanging houses. (This is most impresive at night, when the wonderful lighting of the town and the darkness of the gorge juxtapose magnificently).
  2. Take a stroll up Calle Alfonso VIII leading off the Plaza Mayor and enjoy the multicolured building tumbling down the hill.
  3. Return to the Plaza Mayor and have a look in the Catedral de Cuenca (Cathedral).
  4. Walk up Calle San Pedro (uphill) and out of the Castle Walls and have a well deseved drink in one of the string of bars there at dusk, taking in the view across Cuenca.
  5. If you have a little extra time head out to the Ciudad Encantada, an interesting spot where strange rock formations are the order of the day.


Guide to Cuenca – What to look for on the Menu

We know how tough it can be in a bar or restaurant when you’re visiting a foreign country. Here’s our guide of what local specialities to look for on the menu in Cuenca.

Morteruelo – A local stew normally made with partridge but often made with hen.

Chorizo – The local chorizo sausage is excellent

Zarajos – Normally served as a pre-meal snack these are lambs intenstines fried or grilled. An acquired taste.

Queso Manchego – The local cheese from Castilla La Mancha and famous the world over.

Vino Manchego – The earthy brown-red wine of Castilla La Mancha, centred on Valdepeñas.

Alajú – A honey and almond delicacy, a throwback from the days of Islamic rule.

Guide to Cuenca – Where to Stay

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Reader’s Tips

This section is specifically designed for our readers to share their top tips with other would-be travellers. If you visited a particularly wonderful restaurant, or stayed in a fantastic hotel, or even ate a tremendous local dish, please let us know here! Any tip whatsoever will be greatly appreciated by our Spain loving community of travellers.

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