Cuenca in Spain, is the capital city of the province of Cuenca, as well as a UNESCO World Heritage site. A city that’s been in existence for almost 1,500 years, nowadays Cuenca is divided into two specific areas – the Old Quarter and the new city. Since its World Heritage designation in 1996, the number of tourists to Cuenca has risen rapidly.
Not surprising really, as there’s so much to see and do, with these top five places a great way to start.
Cuenca Cathedral (Our Lady of Grace Cathedral) – The first must see place in Cuenca, whether you’re religious or not, is Cuenca Cathedral. Built almost 1,000 years ago, the cathedral is one of the first examples of Gothic architecture in Spain. Various features have been added in the ensuing centuries but Cuenca Cathedral still remains one of the most beautiful buildings in the city.
Don’t miss a visit to the Cathedral Treasury containing several notable works of art and, if you want spectacular, visit Cuenca Cathedral during Holy Week, when it will be crowded with worshippers as well as the center of traditional Spanish festivals and parades.
Overhanging Houses (Las Casas Colgadas) – One of the most photographed areas in Cuenca is the location of the city’s famous overhanging houses, or Las Casas Colgadas. The houses were built on and over a rock formation in the 15th century. They hang out over the Huecar River Gorge and can be seen, and photographed, on a walk through the Huecar Canyon.
There’s also a couple of restaurants and a museum housed in several of the hanging houses, which are a wonderful opportunity to actually see inside one.
Cuenca Archaeological Museum – A small but fascinating museum, the Cuenca Archaeological Museum houses exhibits of artifacts going back several thousand years. Here you’ll see Roman coins and pottery excavated from the Cuenca area. Metalwork, ceramics, prehistoric pieces, ancient cooking utensils and all exhibited in a beautiful traditional Spanish house.
Admission is only 1.20 euros and is free on Saturdays and Sundays. Open every day except Monday.
Stay in the Cuenca Parador Hotel – In case you’re not familiar, a parador is an independent hotel in Spain that’s usually located in an historic building or former religious place. The Cuenca Parador Hotel is one of the finest paradors in all of Spain. Located in a converted 16th century Dominican convent above the famous city gorge, the hotel is absolutely gorgeous.
You’ll get a luxurious room complete with all the high-tech modern conveniences, superb food and even be able to eat in a dining room that was once the cloisters and the chapel.
Eat Cuenca’s Famous Cuisine – Not only does Cuenca have amazing restaurants, its cuisine is famous throughout the region for its lamb, other meat dishes, stews and desserts. If you love rich, home cooking, you will luxuriate in the food in Cuenca.
Try the restaurant Rincon de Paco — One of the best in the city for traditional Cuencan food. Eat cakes and pastries from Marisol, one of Cuenca’s top bakeries and, don’t miss sampling the Alaju – a Cuencan pastry stuffed with almonds and honey. Delicious.