Guide to cuenca, castilla la mancha, cuenca tourist guide, guide to cuenca, hanging houses cuencs
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Places in Spain -Cuenca in Castilla la Mancha

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The province of Cuenca is one of five provinces within the region of Castilla-La-Mancha, the other four being Guadalajara, Toledo, Albacete and Ciudad Real. The whole area has some of the most historic and beautiful lands within the whole of Spain. Remains of burial grounds dating from the Iron Age have been discovered as well as some major Roman settlements such as those at Saelices and Valeria.

 

Cuenca the city, known as the 'Eagles nest' because of its position, high on a hill, is easily accessed by means of the N430/N320 highways and has a good infrastructure within the city. The city is separated from the nearby rock face by deep ravines in which the rivers Júcar and Huécar run.

The city is clearly divided into two parts; the old and the modern. The modern half offers very little history, mainly consisting of modern residences, tower blocks and apartments. The old part is one of the most wonderful cities in Spain and is worthy of several days exploration. We visited Cuenca in March 2003 and enjoyed our stay thoroughly. We returned in 2010 to update our travel diaries.

 

 
 
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The Cathedral, pictured left, located in Plaza Mayor dates from 1177 and shows architecture over several periods. The interior houses many works of art. There are several chapels located within; each very different.
The Palcacio Episcopal dating from the 13th century is also worthy of a visit.
The Town Hall dating from the 18th century is located near the cathedral (look for the flags flying). Close to this you will find several street cafes where you can enjoy the afternoon sun. There are several car parks close by; don't be tempted to park in the Plaza Mayor. Pictured right is the Plaza Mayor and Town Hall, looking from the cathedral steps.

Separated from the old town by the ravine and sitting on the edge of the rock is the San Pablo Convent. This is now the Parador, a luxurious restoration and four star, state-run hotel. The convent dates from the 16th century and the hotel is adorned with period furniture and works of art. The Parador makes an excellent place to stay with splendid views of the town. From the Parador take the iron bridge to the old town and watch for the famous 'hanging houses'.
 
 

 

 

 

 

The 'Hanging Houses' one of which is pictured right, are possibly the most surprising and amazing features of the city. These four houses literally hang on the edge of the cliff, overlooking the deep ravine near San Pablo Bridge. These houses have become a symbol of Cuenca.

Within many of the cobbled streets of old Cuenca you will find rows of tall, town houses, painted in vivid pastel colours such as those pictured left. This particual street is found through the arch of the town hall, heading down the hill. There are few shops in the old town other than the odd tourist shop. For shopping you need to head to the modern part of Cuenca. You will however find a great shop near the town hall that sells all manner of local craft items.
Walk past the cathedral, up the hill to the castle for splendid panoramic views. There is a walk from the castle, heading even higher that gives you the best views. A little past the castle you will find a tourist information office and several quaint bars. There is ample parking at the top so taking a car through the town is not really a problem. This is also the place to be if you are a walker. There are several planned routes giving the best sights.
   
 

 

Our visit to Cuenca in September 2010

The weather was pleasant but cold for this time of year when we arrived in Cuenca. We were looking forward to our visit and our stay in one of the nicest hotels in Cuenca. The gorge and the hanging houses never cease to amaze us, as does the cathedral. On our first visit to Cuenca we found the people to be very welcoming and found the costs of everything to be very reasonable. On our 2010 trip we found that prices had risen beyond belief and Cuenca was very expensive compared to many of the other places we visited. Meals and drinks out were particularly expensive. Our trip to Cuenca was spoilt to a certain extent by one of the restaurants in the Plaza Mayor. We went to the Los Arcos restaurant in the Plaza Mayor for a meal in the evening. We were convinced by the manager to try some of the local menu. We were very disappointed with the starters which were not only expensive but almost unpalatable. Two of our party had the lamb dish for the main course. The quality of the meat was the worst we had ever come across in ten years of reviewing Spain. It was totally uneatable and unfit for the dog. It was served cold, was a poor cut and didn't taste of lamb, or anything come to think of it. It was sent back then came back five minutes later after being microwaved. This made it even worse.

 

We stayed at the Hotel Posada San Jose - here's our review

 

Villages and towns of Cuenca Province
Alarcon
In the south of the province, a walled village built to a medieval plan and well preserved. The village has four 'must-see' churches and a castle where Don Juan Manuel wrote most of his works. The hill where the village is situated seems to have been inhabited since prehistoric times. It was conquered by the Romans, converted into a fortress by the Arabs and conquered back by Alfonso VIII. The enclosing ramparts are one of the best known and most complete defence systems existing in Spain today. The castle was built by Alfonso VIII on the site of an earlier Arab castle.
Worthy of a mention in the village is the Don Juan Manuel Square which is home to the Town Hall and St.John's Church. There are numerous other historical buildings scattered throughout the village. Spanning the river are two bridges, both of Arab construction built on older, Roman ones.
 
Belmonte
A monumental town of great interest with many, well preserved architectural gems, not least of all its castle. It was built by Juan Pacheco in 1456-1470 on the site of an earlier castle dated 1324. It was restored at one point and used as a private residence. The walled precinct whose 15th-16th century ramparts and gates connect the old town with the castle is particularly well preserved. Belmonte has more than its fair share of churches, palaces and convents. The hermitage of Nuestra Senora de Gracia, dated 17th century is certainly worthy of a visit.
 
 
Pictured right is just one of several important castles in the Cuenca province.

   
Huete
The town has its roots in the Roman, Visigothic, Arab and Christian times. The town finally passed into the hands of the Crown in 1476. Huete has conserved a large number of mansions and religious monuments. In Calle Nueva you will find the Bishop's Palace from the 18th century, in Calle de las Escuelas, the magnificent ruins of the church of Our Lady of Atienza can be seen. Other buildings include several major churches, palaces and the castle, built on a hill, overlooking the town.

San Clemente
A Mancha town located in the south of the province, on the Mancha plain. An elegant and noble town where evidence of Roman occupation has been discovered. The town was founded in the 12th century by the Catholic Monarchs and shows architecture, well preserved from the 16th century, such as the Town Hall in Plaza Mayor. If you walk through the streets you will see that all the churches and palaces all remain well cared for. Note the two bridges that cross the Rio Rus.

 

Local crafts
Historical artefacts in the museums of Cuenca prove that for many centuries, the province has been well known for its craftsmanship in many mediums. Even to this day, craft activity has been injected with new techniques and new forms. The area has been noted for its crafts in ivory, glass, carpets and ironwork. Wood, ceramics and wickerwork are also still popular today. We have ceramics from Cuenca and Priego, glass from Cuenca, wax objects from Albalete and Tarancon, taxidermy from Mota and cutlery from Minglanilla, and these are just a few.
   
 
Gastronomy
Cuenca shares many features of its gastronomy with the other provinces of Castilla-La-Mancha; its origins, traditions and quality of its raw materials. Heavy dishes, high in calories such as hotpots, lamb and game. But Cuenca has a few exclusive dishes and unique methods of preparation. One such dish is zarajos, which consists of lamb's guts roast in a wood-fired oven after being rolled on a piece of vine shoot, very spicy and very tasty. By far, the province's most unique dish has to be morteruelo, made from grated pig's liver, chicken, cured ham, pig's lard, walnuts and spices.
Other delights include dishes using trout from the mountain streams and game from the rolling countryside. All washed down with an ample supply of wine from the local vineyards. No meal is complete without the Manchegan cheese and pastries from the local bakers.

Festivals and fiestas
The province begins the year with the festival of Moors and Christians around January 8th in Valverde de Jucar and on the third Sunday in January in Valera de Abajo. In Las Mesas they celebrate this festival by the lighting of bonfires. The celebration of the Purification of the Virgin is of special importance in Almonacid del Marquesado. The most famous festival is by far the Holy Week celebrations when the whole province comes alive in a blaze of colour. May Day is celebrated in most villages and on 2-3 May Las Majadas celebrates the Holy Cross.
In August and September many of the villages celebrate their patron saints and in October, Corpus Christi is marked in Fuentelespino de Haro. The year closes with the festival of the Vitor in Horcajo de Santiago, centering on the figure of the Immaculate Conception and the living Nativity scene in Vega del Codorno.

 
Contacts
Local Police Emergencies - 092
National Police Emergencies - 091 - 969 224 859
General Emergencies 112
Guardia Civil Emergencies - 062
Town Hall 969 176 100
Tourist information 969 235 815
Tourist information Plaza Mayor 969 241 051
Tourist website www.cuenca.es
   
   
Transport

Bus station

969 227 087
Radio taxi 969 233 343
Railway station 902 240 202
     
Hotels

Hotels in Cuenca can be found here

 

Posada san Jose Hotel - reviewed by idealspain, september 2010

Entertainment Centro de Artesania Iglesia 969 233 184
Museo de Cuenca 969 213 069
Museo Diocesano 969 224 210
Museo de Electrografia 969 179 118
   
   
 
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