If I ever go missing, especially with my car, don’t go around looking for me in Cuenca . I would have a nervous breakdown trying to drive through the streets and slopes. I’m not sure what time we arrived, maybe mid-morning. We had a reservation to have lunch at the Parador. However, to get there we had to drive up a horrible, horrible hill with a terrible paving and park too close to the cliff so #no.
Cuenca is considered a World Heritage City. It has a classical, mostly Medieval area, and a normal / standard area surrounding that. The inner cluster is virtually carless as the streets are narrow and steep. It is perched on the Huécar Gorge and as you can see, a vertical rock wall.
We had some time before we had to go for lunch, so the first thing we did was go have a look at the Casas Colgadas, the hanging houses that overlook the Huécar Gorge. Inside there is a contemporary art museum that I visited once already so there was no incentive to look again – you know, the kind of abstract art that showcases a plus-symbol and you’re supposed to interpret.
We had lunch at the Parador de Cuenca. A Parador is a high-end state-owned hotel usually with a good restaurant. More often than not, a Parador is located in a renovated historical building. This one is a former monastery, and the restaurant is located, if I remember correctly, where the original dining room would have been.
Main dishes were forgettable (and not photogenic) but the curd or “cuajada” for dessert was to die for – and it came with a lot of extra goodies.
In order to get to the town centre you have to cross the scary, scary bridge aka the Puente de San Pablo, St Paul’s Bridge, over the gorge, but I survived – without a freak-out (≧▽≦) and you might be aware that I am not a fan of heights.
We had lunch, then moved (over the scary scary bridge) on to see the Museo de las Ciencias de Castilla la Mancha, the Science Museum of Castilla La Mancha – unfortunately the dinosaur area was closed, so we “only” got to see the super steampunk clock and the energy wards, and the tornado simulator, along to some kind of reproduction of the International Space Station.
After the museum we walked a little around the town. We went to the cathedral, Catedral de Santa María y San Julián de Cuenca, but it was closed due to some religious service or another. I mean… that’s its main purpose I guess? (≧▽≦)
Then we found the Torre de Mangana, Mangana Tower, a clock tower dating from the Sixteenth Century. From underneath the tower there is quite an impressive sight of the area surrounding the city.
We went back to the car and we had a drive around the city. Cuenca is located in the middle of a karst area. Karst is a type of landscape formed by the dissolution of soluble rocks e.g. limestone or gypsum. You can see how the rock seems to be “molten” among all the pines.
We reached the Castillo and Murallas (castle and walls) on the other side of town but we had to drive back due to the streets being cut for the same religious event we had run into before.
Thus, on our way back, we drove at the bottom of the Huécar Gorge and headed back to the hotel.
This was about six or seven in the evening, and we did not go out again because we were way outside town. We had dinner in the hotel and called it a day eventually. I ordered the kids’ menu because everything else was too fancy and abundant.
The next morning we woke up early to visit the Ciudad Encantada / Enchanted City. This is another karst topography which has somehow become very famous. Some of the rocks have interesting forms, and have been given names. It is a sort of geological park formed by rain falling on the rocks and dissolving them for millions of years. The original rocks were a mix of of limestone and dolomite in different proportions, which ended up dissolving in different shapes.
After walking around for a couple of hours we went on our return trip.