Cuenca

It is known as the city-landscape and it certainly deserves that title and indeed, was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996. This city-fortress rises triumphantly from its strategic location, perched atop a rocky headland. Its frontiers are marked by the ravines bordering the Huécar River and the delightful waters of the River Júcar which serve as a natural barrier. The first to settle here were the Muslims, who knew how to make the most of its unsurpassable defensive positioning. Here, the architecture is moulded into the landscape in staggered fsahion to form Cuenca’s famous skyscrapers. The Saint Peter Bridge, invites us to take in one of the most emblematic views of the city – from this perspective, we gain an excellent sight of the city in profile. Jutting out from the craggy limestone landforms, we see the Hanging Houses, Episcopal Palace and the rear of the cathedral together with the remains of the medieval city wall. On the other side of the bridge and above a rocky jetty, rises the ancient Dominican Convento of Saint Peter, which today is occupied by a cultural space dedicated to the artist, Gustavo Torner and the State Parador Hotel. The cathedral, which stands on the site of the ancient Arab fortress, was the first building to be constructed after Castilian King Alfonso VIII conquered the city. Locals are proud of the fact that this is believed to be the earliest example of Gothic style in Spain. The city is marked by remains of the old city wall, large houses, convents and churchs as well as some good examples of local architecture, all of which can come as a pleasant surprise for visitors. Contemporary art also plays a big role in this blend of city and land scape – the perfect setting for modern abstract works. That was certainly the view taken by renowned Spanish artists Torner, Saura and Zóbel who installed themselves in the city during the 1960s and who are the reason behind important museums such as The Torner Space, the Saura Foundation, the Cuenca abstract museum and Antonio Pérez Foundation. We bring our tour to an end by stopping off at some of the balcones, whilst strolling down the many typical avenues, walkways that run parallel to the Huécar and Júcar rivers and which allow us to make our way around the entire city. From the numerous vantage points, we can marvel at both the architecture and landscape of this charming and unique city.