Cuenca information

Introduction to the Province of Cuenca
In central Spain to the east of Madrid, Cuenca is one of the provinces that make up Castilla La Mancha. It’s a large, mountainous, sparsely populated province but nonetheless has some hidden gems scattered around its beautiful countryside, the highlight of which is its capital city.

Cuenca City
The city of Cuenca is one of those few places that actually lives up to or even exceeds the visitor’s expectations. It’s an art and architecture lover’s dream.

Cuenca’s Hanging Houses (Casas Colgadas) clinging precariously to the steep limestone rock sides of the deep river gorge below the city are probably one of the most-photographed sights in Spain. Built in the 15th Century, the houses are particularly stunning when illuminated at night. For the best view of them, cross the Puente de San Pablo, an ironwork bridge built in 1902 that is suspended some 60m above the gorge, and look back towards town. Whilst on this side of the gorge, visit the Convento de San Pablo, now a stunning parador hotel, but originally a 16th Century monastery and also the Espacio Torner art collection housed in the church of San Pablo.

Back over in the old town be sure to visit the 12th Century Cathedral of Cuenca, the first in Spain to be constructed in the Gothic style. The Cathedral is located in Plaza Mayor, which is a great spot to grab a bite to eat. See below for more on the gastronomy of Cuenca.

The Abstract Art Museum (Museo de Arte Abstracto Español) is housed in one of the Hanging Houses. It was originally founded in 1966 to preserve and exhibit the abstract art that Spain’s artists were specialising in so much at that time but which was perceived as too avant-garde and even anti-Spanish by Franco’s regime. It now houses a huge collection of abstract art and the views out of its windows are almost as good as the artwork on its walls.

Around Cuenca City and Beyond
If you can drag yourself away from the charms of Cuenca city, the province has some more delights for you.

The Ciudad Encantada (the Enchanted City) is a weird and fascinating natural geological site with stunningly eroded, mushroom-shaped rock formations that have imaginatively been given names such as The Lovers, The Turtle and The Bears.

The villages of Belmonte and Alarcon, south of Cuenca are two places that have charming castles to explore. The village of Beteta has a famous beautiful natural spa (Real Balneario) at Solan de Cabras whose hot waters are alleged to have healing and therapeutic properties.

In the Cuenca Mountains lies the pretty village of Tragacete, a good base for exploring the region. The Cuenca Mountains offer great opportunities for walking, cycling and nature spotting. The gorge of the River Jucar that meanders through the province of Cuenca, is also great natural walking territory.

The Gastronomy of Cuenca
The traditional cuisine of Cuenca, is rich and filling, making much use of game and spices in its dishes.

Morteruelo is probably one of the most typical dishes of the province. It is a sort of dense pate, made from liver, hare or rabbit, and partridge or chicken, flavoured with garlic and spices and is time-consuming in its preparation. It is not eaten spread on bread but with a fork. Zarajos is another local speciality – cleaned lambs’ intestines, wrapped around vine shoots, grilled and served with lemon juice. It is, apparently far more delicious than it may at first sound! Ajoarriero is another type of regional pate, made from cod, potatoes and garlic and usually served topped with hard-boiled eggs. Trout is abundant in Cuenca and usually served simply grilled. The village of Las Pedroñeras in Cuenca is famed for its Ajos Morados or purple garlic (it even hosts an annual garlic festival) and you are likely to find Sopa de Ajos (garlic soup) on menus in Cuenca. For an unusual cheese from Cuenca, try Queso al Romero Mitica, an aged, rosemary-flavoured sheep’s milk cheese.

In the sweet department, Cuenca’s most famous offering are Alajus, which are Arabic sweets made with almonds, honey and orange peel. Also made using orange peel is Resoli, a liqueur speciality of Cuenca, made from coffee, orange peel, cinnamon and other spices and liberally spiked with anis or brandy. It packs a punch!


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