- View from the bridge
- Eat and buy manchego cheese
- Drink some coffee liqueur
- Visit La Ciudad Encantada
I recently made a return trip to Cuenca and was reminded what a spectacular city it is. With its deep cliffs and famous hanging houses, it will certainly be like nothing you’ve seen before. It is capital of the province of Cuenca, which resides is in the community of Castilla La Mancha (which means – manchego cheese!).
A brief history
Cuenca was uninhabited until the Muslims realized its strategic location in 714, at which time they built the fortress of Kunka. The Muslim rule began to crack over the course of the next several hundred years as the Christians began to takeover the Iberian pennisula. After several hundred years of the Muslims maintaining Cuenca, despite many efforts by the Christians, Cuenca was finally conquered by Alfonso VII’s troops in 1177.
What to do
When I’ve gone, I’ve parked at the Parador which sits on a cliff opposite the town itself. From there you can walk across the creaky bridge while enjoying (trying anyway) the spectacular view of the city.
Usually, I’ve eaten at the restaurant the you will find on your left right as you enter the city which is in one of the most picturesque of the hanging houses. There you should be sure to order some cheese and at the end, be sure to enjoy some of the delicious coffee liqueur that they serve. It’s a nice sweet to finish off your meal.
While walking through the hilly town, you may want to visit the cathedral which was built between 1182 and 1270. It is one of the first gothic cathedral’s in Spain (along with Ávila), as a result of Alfonso VII’s wife Elizabeth, daughter of the King of England, who introduced the Anglo-Norman style.
If you are looking for some artisanal goods – wines, cheeses – you will surely find them in almost all the spots, but one shop that I came across, called La Alacena, was packed to the brim with every wine imaginable and heavy with the scent of cheese. The owner, Maria Jesus, was particularly friendly and eager to share with us any of her fragrant cheeses. We purchased one, and I’m fairly certain it was the best manchego I’ve had. It may have a strong smell, but certainly doesn’t taste like it! If you like cheese, make a stop there and get yourself some!
Across the way from this shop is also a darling little ceramic shop called Cuencos de Cuenca. Your eyes will be dazzled by all the colored plates, cups and pictures. They’re simple, but sweet, and since they’re made by a life long resident of Cuenca, that makes them an extra special gift or souvenir.
Just outside of Cuenca is a stop worth making – La Ciudad Encantada (or the charming city). It isn’t an actual city, it’s actually a forest area with large rock formations that all seem to resemble some animal or another due to corrosion over time. It’s a great opportunity to enjoy Spain from another perspective.
Other cities in or near Castilla La Mancha
Toledo (Castilla La Mancha)
Experiences from my blog