The Hanging Houses of Cuenca & the Enchanted City

The Hanging Houses of Cuenca & the Enchanted City
Cuenca, Spain
Cuenca, Spain We took a drive of about two hours east of Madrid to the town of Cuenca. We arrived at about 09:00. The sun was still not completely shinning on the town. It was in the low 50’s when we arrived. There was a little bit of a breeze too, so the decision to wear shorts seemed ill-advised at that time!
One of the first sights we saw was the Casas Colgadas (hanging houses). These are houses that were built at the top of a cliff. They partially hang out over the cliff, hence the name. They were built in the 14th and early 15th centuries. Today, one is a restaurant and the other two comprise the Museum of Abstract Art.
One of the best vantage points from which to photograph the hanging houses is from the St. Paul bridge. On the bridge, one finds hundreds of small padlocks. Each one has the name of a guy and a gal. Some of them have dates written on them too. With my limited understanding of Spanish, I believe this is a sign of a couple’s undying love.
The first museum we went through was the Diocesan Museum. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take photographs inside. Regardless, there were amazing artifacts from the church dating back to the 1200’s. Probably the most reknown item the museum has is the orginal painting The Christ with the Cross by El Greco, from the late 1500’s.
We then entered the Cuenca Cathedral. It was one of the best we have been in since we have been here. I think this really gives the Toledo Cathedral a run for its money. The construction of the Cathedral began in the late 12th Century.
The Museum of Abstract Art was open when we emerged from the Cathedral so we decided to go there. There were some pieces that we really liked. One of them was done by Eusebio Sempere. It was titled Campos de Minbre, 1965. It is a series of horizontal lines, painted one by one with the aid of a ruler. Each line almost looks like embroidery thread. We liked it so much we bought a framed print in the museum store.
We made our way back to the Plaza Mayor. We selected the San Juan restaurant at random. They offered a meal with traditional dishes of Cuenca for 20€. It was a six-course meal; beginning with a salad, morteruelo de Cuenca and ajo arriero de bacalao, Zarajos de cordero, sopa Castellana, costilla de cordero asado, and dessert. The morteruelo is a pâté served hot. It is a mixture of rabbit, partridge, and pork liver. The ajo arriero is also a kind of pâté. It is served cold and is notoriously difficult to digest (supposedly it can block the digestive tract of a donkey). It contains garlic, boiled potato, cod, oil, egg and walnuts. The Zarajos is seasoned and grilled lamb tripe. All of that, including our drinks, was only 40€! A steal by Spanish standards!
After lunch, we drove about 25 miles north to an attraction known as Ciudad Encantada (Enchanted City). It sort of reminded us of the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs because of all of the rock formations.
Cuenca is certainly one of our most favorite towns in Spain…so far!


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