The castle of Cuenca is a city inside the city. There's not much to see in the remains of the original Arab fortress, but the whole is nice and allows splendid views over the city, the Huecar valley and the hanging houses.
There's no reference about this old tower destroyed in the 19Th century during the battle against Napoleon's soldiers, and rebuilt in 1926. It has now a Mudejar style (maybe because of its Moorish origins), and suffered a final adding in 1968 to get a fortress look.
The image of Cuenca is given by the "casas colgadas", a rank of old houses atop the edge of the canyon carved by Huecar river. Nowadays they are, obviously tourist attraction, housing a museum and a restaurant. They may be seen from several angles, the best being St. Pablo bridge or the castle.
When staying at the Parador we wondered why this former Dominican monastery of San Pablo had been built on this spot outside the town of Cuenca on the other side of the ravine.
According to the Parador organisation the only thing to be certain is that the canon Juan del Pozo built the monastery in 1523 apparently at his own expense. There are various explanations as to the reason for this surprising location but none is certain. The founder is buried in the center of the transept of the church.
Also known is that the cloister was designed by Pedro de Alviz and the church by his son Juan, built in the late Gothic style with Renaissance decoration.
During most part of the 20th c. the conventual's complex was a seminary until 1975 when it was abandoned.
Restoration work began in 1991 and the Parador opened in 1993. It is an impressive building when seen from the town side of the Huecar.
The former refectory is now the dining room, complete with its magnificent coffered ceiling and the original pulpit. The former chapterhouse has been turned into a café.
The church is presently a museum of modern art.
In the low part of the city, the river is cool spot, nice for resting or water sports. There's an artificial beach, but I think that bathing is not the main use of the river. The landscape is nice, with dramatic cliffs, some of them with hanging houses behind the vegetation.
Far from the sea, Cuenca used Jucar river to create an artificial beach. The space is small, but a clever solution was used to collect clothes and belongings at the entrance and storing them out of the beach. It seems to work!
Alfonso VII of Castilla conquered Cuenca from the moors and the mosque was, as usually, transformed in a christian church. Influenced by the Normand (the Spanish queen. Leonor Plantagenet, was daughter of the English king) it was built in first french Gothic, but the facade was later replaced in neo-Gothic, trying to reproduce the original, eliminating some baroque transformations.
It's forbidden to take pictures inside.
UNESCO heritage since 1996, Cuenca has in this square at the entrance of the historic site, its dominant point. City hall, a baroque building with three arches giving access to the square, and the cathedral of "Nuestra Señora de Gracia", from the 12Th century, are the most remarkable buildings in this harmonious square.
There is a very nice pedestrian passage way that winds down (or up if you come the other way) the cliff sides, giving you nice views and quiet corners of the city.
You will not only drop down along the cliff, but will momentarily actually even pass through it just above the Santuario de Nuestra Señora De Las Angustias.
Continuing on to C/ de San Juan, you will have views of the lower cliffs of the city and the river below. In the summer, people have picnics and go swimming in some of the river's pools.
The old city has lots of cats. Maybe its a factor of the small spaces, or the preference of the locals, or their ability to have a good life, but the cats in Cuenca are always around.
They are however typically congregated in certain places. We stared for a long time, but could never clearly identify what these guys were preying on. Typically the cats are just basking in the sun and spending their lazy days waiting between meals. We found the cats in this spot every time we walked by, regardless of the day.
After walking the town up and town, quite possibly the quietest spot for a rest and view of the valley below, and the cliff line (of the west side of the town) is the walking path just below Calle de San Miguel, on the back side of the church.
The path ends shortly after the church, so there is no thru-traffic.
There are ~4 benches that you can sit and take in the sun while looking down the valley.
The hill is steep enough that there is nothing below you to obstruct your view.
After the excursion to the Ciudad Encantada one should continue northwards to Salto de Villalba where the road CM 2105 meets the gorges of the Jucar at the "Window of the Devil"(photo 1).
To our regret, due to the lack of flow of the river, the spectacle of the stream was disappointing. However the gorges of the Jucar, upstream to this point, are very beautiful (photo 2).
Downstream the valley opens itself with the small town of Villalba de la Sierra (photo 3).
We joined Cuenca by the CM 2105 along the river Jucar.
L'excursion à la Ciudad encantada se continue vers le nord à hauteur de Salto de Villalba où la route CM 2105 rencontre les gorges du Jucar à hauteur de la "Fenêtre du Diable".
A notre regret, par manque de débit de la rivière, le spectacle de l'eau était décevant.
Par contre les gorges du Jucar en amont de ce point sont très belles.
En aval s'ouvre la vallée avec la petite ville de Villalba de la Sierra.
On rejoint Cuenca par la CM 2105 qui longe le Jucar.
The usual excursion outside Cuenca consists in visiting the curious rocks formed by the erosion into distinctive and memorable shapes and called the "enchanted city".
It is a part of the Serrania de Cuenca situated at 35 Km of the city.
Follow the river Jucar to the North and then take CM 1204.
The site is situated at a height of about 1.400 m in a landscape mainly forested with pines.
Car park at the entrance. Admission charge. Walk of a little more than one hour.
L'habituelle excursion hors de Cuenca consiste à visiter les curieuses formations rocheuses produites par l'érosion dans une partie de la Serrania de Cuenca situé à une trentaine de Km de la ville. Il faut sortir de Cuenca vers le nord en suivant le lit de la rivière Jucar pour ensuite prendre la CM 1204.
Le site se situe à une altitude d'environ 1.400 m dans un paysage principalement boisé de pins.
Vaste parking à l'entrée de la "ville enchantée".
Entrée payante. Parcours fléché d'un peu plus d'une heure.
This street which joins the Plaza Mayor to the lower part of the city is characterized by buildings of a simple architecture but with facades painted in lively colours. Bleu, yellow, orange, red on three or four stores high. At the back of these houses there is often a supplementary floor downwards because the unevenness of the ground.
Most of these houses date of the 18th c.
Cette rue qui rejoint la Plaza Mayor et le bas de la ville se caractérise par des immeubles d'une architecture sobre et plutôt banale mais dont les façades sont peintes dans des couleurs vives. On y trouve des violet, bleus, jaune, orange, rouge généralement sur trois ou quatre étages. Du fait de la dénivelation il y a souvent un étage supplémentaire vers le bas à l'arrière.
La plupart datent du XVIIIe, quelques unes d'une architecture plus recherchée se situent dans le bas de la rue Alfonso VIII près de la Plaza del Carmen.
There are only few stones left of the walls of the Moresque period. Cuenca underwent a nine months siege by Alfonso VIII who finally broke in the city by the door of San Juan and from there went upwards to take the Castillo (1177).
At the Christian period the wall surrounding Cuenca had six doors and three small gates. Particular is that, due to the lack of space on the rocky platform, several churches were constructed on the walls.
What presently remains of the walls dates from the reign of Philip II.
Best visible is the arch of the door at the northern entrance of Cuenca called the Arco de Bezudo. Parts of the remaining walls are also visible from the walk on the side of the Jucar ravine.