Monumental and natural Cuenca
Las Torcas de Los Palancares and Las Lagunas en Cañada del Hoyo, where the land is filled with large and round holes, like a cheese!
Very close to Cuenca, in the heart of the lowlands, the land is filled with large holes. These ‘natural accidents’ that seem like the footprints of a giant, are circular and originated 80 million years ago, when almost the whole province was covered by the Thetis Sea, which is the modern-day Mediterranean. These are called Las Torcas de Los Palancares and each has their own name and legend: de la Novia, del Lobo, del Tío Agustín, Aliagosa… 6 miles away are the Lagunas de Cañada del Hoyo, whose waters apparently are of different colours and they even seem to change colour depending on the time of day. This excursion can be completed with a visit to Cañada del Hoyo, which still preserves its popular architecture and hides treasures such as the Chapel of the Virgen de los Ángeles, the church of Nuestra Señora de las Nieves and the Castle of Buen Suceso, which oversees the town.
Buendía, where a path leads you to rocks that have multiple faces!
We propose a game: discovering different characters from in between the rocks. In the natural environment of Buendía, two artists have been sculpting a series of faces on the walls of the rocks since 1992. It is called the Ruta de las Caras (Route of the Faces), and this winding route of pine-tree forests hides different characters, such as a nun, Beethoven, elves the Shaman… All of them are magical figures that bring life to the rock. The route is close to the Buendía Reservoir, which is 31 miles long and where you can water-ski, windsurf, sail and fish. If you prefer something a bit more historical, you can walk around Buendía, where its walls and caves of the town centre are witnesses of a legacy left behind by the Muslims and Visigoths. The Plaza Mayor, the Renaissance-style Church of Asunción and Casa de la Tercia are all points of interest, the latter currently holding the Carriage Museum. Another place of attachment and gathering is the Chapel of the Virgen de los Desamparados, built in the 16th and 17th centuries. It is located in a setting of great natural beauty, at the end of the gorge of the river Guadiela.
Old Town of Cuenca
There is no way that you can miss out on the architectonic show that are the Casas Colgadas (Hanging Houses) nor their ‘skyscrapers’ as a maximum expression of popular architecture, but you cannot forget that you are in Cuenca, a city that is a World Heritage Site and that is literally full of monuments, such as the Cathedral, Torre Mangana or the many churches and convents. We invite you to discover them through the perfectly-preserved medieval streets that will lead you to discover impossible places that embrace nature itself.
The Plaza Mayor will be our starting point for this route. Bordering the Cathedral of Nuestra Señora de Gracia (the only one in Spain of Gothic-Norman style, considered as one of the gems of Castilian architecture) on Calle Obispo Valero, we visit the Episcopal Palace (16th century and later), the residence of the bishop of the diocese, offices of the bishopric and archives. On the door, the badge of the Bishop Flores Osorio, under whose government the work was finished. Also on this street we can see the Diocesan Museum and the Museum of Cuenca.
Following on Calle Canónigos, we arrive to Plaza de Ronda, previously known as Plaza de los Teresillos (due to the appellative with which the family who lived there was known as), which is where we enter the Casas Colgadas: Three are the Casas Colgadas that remain and that have little in common with the original ones due to the many restorations that they have endured. Few are the historical details that are available on the original Casas Colgadas, dating from the 14th century or early 15th. In an old writing they even talked about their Arabic origin, even though it is dubious to specify its origin before the arrival of the Christians. Rather, it is the theory that they served as noble residences that is the most sustained one. Today, they hold the Museum of Spanish Abstract Art and a mesón (tavern). These Casas Colgadas are called Casas del Rey and Casa de la Sirena.
After walking down a passage (that used to be one of the gates of access to the city) under Casa de la Sirena we arrive at the Puente de San Pablo bridge. It was built by order of the canon Juan del Pozo, approximately between 1533 and 1589. Initially built in stone, it is formed by five arches leaning on pillars in the shape of towers. After enduring various collapses, it was substituted for a steel and metal one in 1902, preserving slight remains from the original ones in the towers that sustain it. It is almost 200 ft tall.
Before crossing the bridge towards the Parador de Turismo, we should look at the popular sculpture figure of the city: the Pastor de las Huesas del Vasallo. It is a work by Luis Marco Pérez that had a real model: a shepherd from Valdecabras. Crossing the Bridge of San Pablo, we arrive to the Convent of San Pablo, built by order of Juan del Pozo in 1523. Firstly it was occupied by Dominicans and then and up until 1974 it was used as a seminar by the Pauline Fathers. Since 1993 it has become a Parador Nacional de Turismo, a luxury hotel located in a historical building. Next to it we find the Church of San Pablo, where its canon founder is buried at the foot of the altar.
Do not forget to enjoy the wonderful panoramic view of the Gorge of the river Huécar and the Casas Colgadas.
We cross the Bridge of San Pablo again and we arrive to Plaza de Ronda, where the Museum of Cuenca is located, also known as Casa de Curato for having been the residence of the head of the parish of Santiago, located inside the Cathedral. Inside they exhibit findings from different excavations carried out in the province, from the Paleolithic up until modern times. They also have a library that specialises on the subjects that the museum deals with.
On Calle Colmillo we once again come out to the Plaza Mayor and walking under the arches of the Town Hall already past the square we come across steps, that take us up to Plaza de la Merced, which has the Convent of Las Esclavas del Santísimo Sacramento, with the entrance being at the front of the square, the Conciliar Seminar of San Julián and the entrance to the Museum of Sciences of Castilla-La Mancha.
If we go back to the Plaza Mayor and, past the Cathedral on the right, we take Ronda de Julián Romero, we arrive at the old Convent of the Carmelites.