Things to do in Cuenca, Spain: a hidden gem full of treasures

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In the UNESCO heritage listed city of Cuenca, you’ll be hard pushed not to fall in love with the cobbled streets and houses delicately hanging over the cliff face. I was certainly charmed by the city during my weekend in Cuenca, and while my itinerary for a quick visit covers the city itself, there are plenty more things to explore in, and around, Cuenca that I’ve listed below.

Situated at the heart of the Castilla-La Mancha region of Spain, many people simply enjoy Cuenca on a day trip from Madrid. But if you enjoy medieval walled cities and fresh air hikes through unspoilt nature, Cuenca and the surrounding area serves up plenty to keep you busy.

Here are some of the many things to enjoy, admire, and do in Cuenca.

In Cuenca, Spain

Cuenca is a sit of two sides, the new city, and the old walled city which stands high above on a mountain. While there are a few museums in the new, lower part of the city, most of the tourist draws are in the old town.

Cuenca Cathedral

If you have been exploring Europe for a little while, chances are all churches and cathedrals have started to look the same. Cuenca’s Cathedral though is one not to miss, given it’s vast and varied architectural styles inside. One of the earliest examples of that built in the Gothic style in Spain, the modest entrance fee will give you at least an hour of entertainment.

Constructed in the 12th-century, it sits on the same spot a Mosque had hundreds of years before. Inside, you will find the imposing towers of the main hall, basking in the colourful light of the stain glass windows. Leading off from the main hall are many smaller rooms, each with their own style and unique decoration.

The building work, both inside and out, has been ongoing since the day the Cathedral opened, which is why there is such a range of styles ranging from neo-Gothic to Baroque. This is evident from the outside, but even more so in the smaller rooms. In the courtyard outside, and from the terrace of the Cathedral, you’ll find some equally impressive panorama views.

For those who are interested, there are also special nighttime tours of the Cathedral where I imagine the illuminations to add another dimension.

Parador de Cuenca and Espacio Torner

The 16th-century Parador de Cuenca is an effective repurposing of a 16th-century monastery, now serving dual purposes as a hotel and the attached St Pablo Church as a gallery space.

The imposing building which sits across the St Pablo Bridge from the hanging houses is either a splurge place to stay or somewhere to pop your head into to see the hotel and visit the gallery.

The art space is dedicated to displaying the work of Gustavo Torner, who is an artist from Cuenca. While the collection isn’t huge, the area is well laid out, and the imposing high ceilings amplify the collection.


The Casas Colgadas and Abstract Art Gallery

The Hanging Houses of Cuenca are the most famous attraction in the city, and thus usually top the things to do in Cuenca lists.

The Casas Colgadas, with their wooden balconies, used to line much of the cliffs but now just a few remain. Dating back to the 14th-century it’s quite impressive that even a few of these are still able to be admired and even visited inside.

Inside one of the houses, you’ll find an abstract art gallery which is a beautifully appointed space. The perfect balance of white walls and original features compliment the collection of Spanish Abstract Art, and while you can’t get onto the hanging balconies, you can see them from the large glass windows.

windows.

Hanging Houses of Cuenca
Hanging Houses of Cuenca
Hanging Houses of Cuenca

Castilla-La Mancha Paleontology Museum

This region of Spain is home to some fantastically preserved fossils, and the museum here is dedicated to showcasing the palaeontology of the area.

While this museum is ideal for kids, the well put together collection covering the dinosaurs of the region is a good visit for all age groups. The selection here dates back as far as 125-million years ago, making it a rather unique attraction to visit while in Cuenca.

St. Pablo Bridge

Another of the iconic features of Cuenca is the iron and wooden bridge of St Pablo which has ferried people across the gorge for over 100-years. I heard in strong winds it moves slightly which is always reassuring, but it’s a great spot to admire both sides of the river from

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