Tag Archives: Cuenca

Spain 2011, World Heritage Sites

Each new trip to Spain includes visits to World Heritage Sites so when I counted them up I was interested to discover that out of the forty-three sites on the UNESCO list (second only to Italy with forty-seven) I have now been to twenty and that is nearly half of them.

In 2005 I went to Barcelona in Catalonia and saw the works of Antoni Gaudi, Palau de la Música Catalana and the Hospital de Sant Pau. Then in 2008 I saw the Historic Centre of Cordoba, the Caves of Altamira in Cantabria, the Old Town and Cathedral of Santiago de Compostella  and the Alcázar and Archivo de Indias in Seville.  In 2009 in the motoring holiday around Castilian cities it was the Old Town of Segovia and its Roman Aqueduct, the Walled Town of Cuenca, the Historic City of  Toledo and the Old Town of Ávila.  This trip in 2011 added CáceresMérida and Aranjuez and also Trujillo which for the time being is only on the tentative list.

   

Even before I knew anything about World Heritage Sites it turns out that I have visited two more in the days of my beach type holidays.  Although, to be absolutely fair, when I went to these places neither of them were yet on the list.  In 1988 I holidayed on the island of Ibiza which was accepted onto the list in 1999 in recognition of its biodiversity and culture and the following year I went to Tenerife and took a cable car ride to the top of Mount Tiede, a national park that was accepted to the list in 2007.

Even though they weren’t World Heritage Sites at the time I visited them I am still going to count them but the final two might be a bit dubious – but anyway here goes.  In 1984 while driving back through Spain from Portugal I drove with friends through the city of Burgos which was accepted in that year because of its Cathedral and in Galicia in 2008 while visiting Santiago de Compostella I managed to drive over parts of the Pilgrim Route, which exists on the list separately from the old city itself.

Index of  Spain

World Heritage Sites (posted June 2009)

Spain 2011, The Plaza Mayor

Almagro Spain Plaza Mayor

We were staying at the Hotel Retiro del Maestre, a renovated old Spanish nobleman’s house on a street leading to the main square and we found it easily and left the car in the underground car park.  It was a friendly family run hotel with spacious and comfortable public rooms, a large outside terrace basking in the pleasant sun and was a nice room for us with a view over the garden.

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Travels in Spain, The Search Continues

Since early 2009, as part of our own Grand Tour of Europe, we have been drawn time and again  to the Iberian Peninsula in search of the real Spain and in November 2010 we returned once more, flying to Madrid and planning a short three night stay in the city of Ávila about one hundred kilometres north west of the capital city.

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Travels in Spain – Cuenca, Hanging Houses and Hairy Bikers

Cuenca Hanging Houses

We drove directly to the very top of the old city and parked the car at a scenic point where there was a stunning vista stretching out below us.  The city was built here because the rocky outcrop of land lies between two deep river gorges, the Júcar and the Huécar and it made an excellent location for a defendable fortress.  We walked down from the car park towards the main Plaza where there were gaily coloured houses, shops and pavement cafés and bars and the city’s Cathedral that was completed in the thirteenth century but partly fell down in 1902 and over a hundred years later the rebuilding of the façade still remains to be fully completed.

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Travels in Spain – Castilla-la Mancha

Cuenca sky

The temperature was dropping by a few degrees each day and the next morning was very chilly indeed when we returned once more to the Plaza Mayor for breakfast at the same little restaurant/bar. The food was simple but satisfying and after filling ourselves up with toast and a sort of tomato puree and/or marmalade topping we set off across the great plain of La Mancha in an easterly direction towards the city of Cuenca.

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Cuenca, the Hanging Houses of Castile

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From Belmonte to Cuenca was a distance of about ninety kilometres and after half way the landscape began to change and we left behind the patchwork of fields and farmland and as we started to climb through hills it became more dramatic with steep sided hills and pine forests and busy rivers dashing madly through narrow gorges.  The previously straight road ran into concertina like bends and driving required greater attention to the road.  Eventually it stopped climbing and the landscape flattened and we made our final approach into Cuenca.

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La Mancha, Tilting at Windmills and The Ruta de Don Quixote

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According to the Spanish, that year (2009) Spain had had a longer and colder winter than usual, a fact that had been confirmed by the assessment of the man from the car hire firm and the weather over the previous two weeks had been changeable so it was with some nervousness that I opened the bedroom shutters to see what the day had in store.  I needn’t have worried because the sky was a perfect blue, the birds were singing and the honey coloured stone of the church opposite was radiating deliciously warm mellow tones into the courtyard below and from this elevated position in the town I could see that the blue extended seductively in all directions.  I instinctively knew that it was going to be a good day.

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