We met Cuenca by chance.
Our friend Liz suggested we take a short bus ride for a day trip in Cuenca to see the windmills mentioned in the tale of Don Quixote. We were all too busy to do any research beforehand that it wasn’t until we got off the bus and saw no signs of windmills that we realized that we were in the wrong city. But we were determined to scope out the unique sites that this small town had to offer.
Cuenca is situated on very mountainous, rocky terrain. I noticed right away that all the traditional homes, gates, and walls were made of stone. We could see cliffs all around us and roads sloped up and down. We took a tour train to get a good idea of the different areas of the city.
The train was a good idea because it took us to some great viewing points, and even lets us stop and get off for photos. We learned a bit of history, saw some unique buildings, and took note of spots that we wanted to come back and check out later.
One of the buildings we passed was a gypsy house. It had a bright blue facade, and the design of the building revealed the city’s history:
The windows at the very bottom are different from the rest, because originally, it was the entrance, or ground floor, to the building. Later on, they decided to dig deeper into the ground for further construction in the area, and so the entrance eventually became the second floor of the building.
We also passed the beautiful Cuenca Cathedral, which is the first Gothic style cathedral in Spain.
We decided to get off at the cathedral and do our own exploring. Finally, we made it to the casas colgadas, or “hanging houses”. These apartments are literally built along the edge of a cliff. The facade of the building meshes into the rocks of the cliff, almost as if they are of the same rock to begin with. Imagine living there, and waking up in the morning to look down out of your bedroom window..
We discovered the beautiful orange hues of the St. Paul Convent and climbed up a viewing point nearby..
And finally we decided to go for some menu del día around 3pm (like I mentioned before, we normally dine at relatively late hours). Never would I have imagined that I would order a bowl of peas at a restaurant and genuinely enjoy them. (guisantes con jamón ibérico)
It was a very quiet day trip spent in Cuenca, and although it wasn’t what I was expecting it to be, it was interesting to see another city so close to Madrid yet vastly different.