Tag Archives: Hanging Houses

Travels in Spain – The Hanging Houses of Cuenca

Cuenca Hanging Houses

“It gave me vertigo to imagine what it must be like living up there , a permanent aviator above the trees”,  Ted Walker – ‘In Spain’

We drove directly to the very top of the old city and parked the car at a scenic point where there was the most stunningly magnificent 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 defensive fortress.

Walking down from the car park towards the main Plaza where there were gaily coloured houses, shops and pavement cafés and bars and the city Cathedral that was completed in the thirteenth century but partly fell down in 1902 but over a hundred years later the rebuilding of the façade still remains to be fully completed and remains a curious juxtaposition of architectural styles, from Anglo-Norman to Iberian Gothic.  That is the way that they do things in Spain.  Mañana.  Tomorrow will do.  Kim always says that I should have been born Spanish!

It was time for refreshment so we stopped at a café with tables in the sun and watched a bizarre gathering of what must have been nearly a hundred bike enthusiasts all of whom looked as though they had stepped off of the set of Easy Rider,  all cracked leather and faded denim.

Cuenca Motorbike Rally

The police weren’t very welcoming and more and more of them arrived to keep an eye on things.  They didn’t seem to doing any harm but eventually someone important told them to move on and they fired up their satanic black and gleaming chrome machines and clutching their cow horn handlebars left the Plaza with much revving of engines in an attempt to make as much noise as they possibly could.  The police kept straight faces but all of the people at the pavement tables thought it was very entertaining and clapped and cheered enthusiastically.

Cuenca Spain Coloured Houses

After this the Plaza settled back into a lazy Saturday afternoon and we moved on to see the rest of the city.  Following the route towards the edge of the gorge it was plain to see how the city had developed.

There was only limited space at the top of the rock so as it grew and it was unable to expand outwards the city went up instead and that explained the tall houses.  Even more dramatically it also went as far as it possibly could in making use of all available space and in the fifteenth century houses were built like Swallows’ nests with rooms and balconies precariously overhanging the gorge above the Huécar River.  These are called the Las Casas Colgadas, the hanging houses, and are the most famous attraction in the city.

It was time for lunch so we returned to the top of the city stopping on the way to climb the castle walls and to admire the scenery of the gorges stretching out on either side of the city.  Climbing even further we reached the top and there were vantage points of the city from elevated craggy rocks where people were walking out and taking as much risk as they dare just to get the perfect photograph.

Our first choice of restaurant had no available tables and as people seemed as settled in as barnacles clinging to a rock the prospects didn’t look good for some time to come so we found a second choice with a table in the sun and on account of the high prices declined a full dining experience and settled for overpriced toasted bread with tiny toppings instead.  To be fair it was in an excellent location and something like 75% of the menu price was just for the magnificent view.

Cuenca is famous for birds of prey and overhead there were large raptors that were riding the thermals and just like us were looking for lunch.  Some of them were buzzards, which are quite common in Northern Spain but later we saw something different that we later identified as the magnificent Spanish Imperial Eagle and we considered it a privilege to have seen them.

It was late afternoon so we left Cuenca getting slightly lost in the tangle of streets on the way out and with no real alternative returned to Chinchón by the same route, first through the rugged hills and the winding road and then to the gentle rolling plains and the long straight road.  We drove on wide empty roads, so empty in places that we wondered from time to time if we had missed a ‘road closed‘ sign.

Eventually we arrived at the industrial town of Tarancón, which was not a place to hang around so we drove swiftly through and then followed a more direct route than we had taken this morning directly back to Chinchón where preparations for tomorrow’s bullfight were stepping up and there were a number of road closures that made it somewhat difficult to get back to the hotel and then some parking restrictions that meant having to pay to use the underground car park.

We purchased some beer and wine from the little shop that was open again this evening and then those of us that had a balcony enjoyed an hour in the sun with a glass of wine and those of us that didn’t stayed in their rooms.  Later we returned to the same restaurant/bar as the previous evening and, because Sue and Christine had declared the menu acceptable, we had mostly the same food again as well.

Alternative Twelve Treasures of Spain – Hanging Houses of Cuenca

Cuenca Hanging Houses

The “Twelve Treasures of the Kingdom of Spain” was a contest/poll that was conducted by the Spanish Television Company Antena 3 and the radio broadcaster Cope. The final results were announced on 31st December 2007.  I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the eight out of the twelve that I have visited and having completed that I thought I might come up with a personal alternative twelve.

My number nine is the Hanging Houses of Cuenca.

Driving directly to the very top of the old city we parked the car at a scenic point where there was a stunning vista stretching out all the way below us.  The city of Cuenca was built here because the rocky outcrop of land lies between two convenient 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.

It was time for refreshment so we stopped at a café with tables in the sun and watched a bizarre gathering of what must have been nearly a hundred bike enthusiasts all of whom looked as though they had stepped off of the set of Easy Rider.  The police weren’t very welcoming and more and more of them arrived to keep an eye on things.  The bikers didn’t seem to doing any harm but eventually someone important told them to move on and they fired up their noisy black and chrome machines and left the Plaza with much revving of engines in an attempt to make as much inconvenience as they possibly could.  The police kept straight faces but all of the people at the pavement tables thought it was very entertaining.

After this the Plaza settled back into a lazy Saturday afternoon routine and we moved on to see the rest of the city.  Following the route towards the edge of the gorge it was plain to see how the city had developed.  There was only limited space at the top of the rock so as it grew and it was unable to expand outwards the city went up instead and that explained the tall houses.  Even more dramatically it also went as far as it possibly could in making use of all available space and in the fifteenth century houses were built with rooms and balconies precariously overhanging the gorge above the Huécar River.  These are called the Las Casas Colgadas, the hanging houses, and are the most famous attraction in the city.

It was time for lunch so we returned to the top of the city stopping on the way to climb the castle walls and to admire the scenery of the gorges stretching out on either side of the city.  Climbing even further we reached the top and there were vantage points of the city from elevated craggy rocks where people were walking out and taking as much risk as they dare just to get the perfect photograph.

Our first choice of restaurant had no available tables and as people seemed as settled in as permanently as barnacles the prospects didn’t look good for some time to come so we found a second choice with a table in the sun and decided to have some tapas.  The menu was giving nothing away in assisting with a selection of dishes we didn’t recognise and the waitress could give no explanation except in Spanish so we went for the ‘surprise me option’ and stabbed a nervous finger towards a couple of items on the menu and sat back in anticipation.

Although I dislike them intensely this was one of those occasions when it would have been useful to have one of those picture menu boards that give an indication to the sort of food that you think you are ordering.  When it arrived we had a chicken dish and a sort of mutton stew, which we probably wouldn’t have knowingly selected but it was tasty and filling and we ate it all and when we had finished we communicated to the waitress the best that we could that we had thoroughly enjoyed it in that polite sort of way that we do when we cannot speak the language.  To be fair it was in an excellent location and something like 75% of the inflated menu price was just for the magnificent view.

Cuenca is famous for birds of prey and overhead there were large birds that were riding the thermals and looking for lunch.  Some of them were buzzards, which are quite common in Northern Spain but later we saw something different that we later identified as the magnificent Spanish Imperial Eagle and we considered it a privilege to have seen them.

It was late afternoon so we left Cuenca getting slightly lost in the tangle of streets on the way out and with no real alternative returned to Chinchón by the same route, first through the rugged hills and the winding road and then to the gentle rolling plains and the long straight road.  We drove on wide empty roads, so empty in places that we wondered from time to time if we had missed a road closed sign.

My Personal A to Z of Spain, H is for Hanging Houses of Cuenca

Cuenca Hanging Houses

Driving directly to the very top of the old city we parked the car at a scenic point where there was a stunning vista stretching out below us.  The city of Cuenca 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.

It was time for refreshment so we stopped at a café with tables in the sun and watched a bizarre gathering of what must have been nearly a hundred bike enthusiasts all of whom looked as though they had stepped off of the set of Easy Rider.  The police weren’t very welcoming and more and more of them arrived to keep an eye on things.  The bikers didn’t seem to doing any harm but eventually someone important told them to move on and they fired up their black and chrome machines and left the Plaza with much revving of engines in an attempt to make as much noise as they possibly could.  The police kept straight faces but all of the people at the pavement tables thought it was very entertaining.

After this the Plaza settled back into a lazy Saturday afternoon and we moved on to see the rest of the city.  Following the route towards the edge of the gorge it was plain to see how the city had developed.  There was only limited space at the top of the rock so as it grew and it was unable to expand outwards the city went up instead and that explained the tall houses.  Even more dramatically it also went as far as it possibly could in making use of all available space and in the fifteenth century houses were built with rooms and balconies precariously overhanging the gorge above the Huécar River.  These are called the Las Casas Colgadas, the hanging houses, and are the most famous attraction in the city.

It was time for lunch so we returned to the top of the city stopping on the way to climb the castle walls and to admire the scenery of the gorges stretching out on either side of the city.  Climbing even further we reached the top and there were vantage points of the city from elevated craggy rocks where people were walking out and taking as much risk as they dare just to get the perfect photograph.

Our first choice of restaurant had no available tables and as people seemed as settled in as barnacles the prospects didn’t look good for some time to come so we found a second choice with a table in the sun and decided to have some tapas.  The menu was giving nothing away in assisting with a selection of dishes we didn’t recognise and the waitress could give no explanation except in Spanish so we went for the ‘surprise me option’ and stabbed a nervous finger towards a couple of items on the menu and sat back in anticipation.

Although I dislike them intensely this was one of those occasions when it would have been useful to have one of those picture menu boards that give an indication to the sort of food that you think you are ordering.  When it arrived we had a chicken dish and a sort of mutton stew, which we probably wouldn’t have knowingly selected but it was tasty and filling and we ate it all and when we had finished we communicated to the waitress the best that we could that we had thoroughly enjoyed it in that polite sort of way that we do when we cannot speak the language.  To be fair it was in an excellent location and something like 75% of the inflated menu price was just for the magnificent view.

Cuenca is famous for birds of prey and overhead there were large birds that were riding the thermals and looking for lunch.  Some of them were buzzards, which are quite common in Northern Spain but later we saw something different that we later identified as the magnificent Spanish Imperial Eagle and we considered it a privilege to have seen them.

It was late afternoon so we left Cuenca getting slightly lost in the tangle of streets on the way out and with no real alternative returned to Chinchón by the same route, first through the rugged hills and the winding road and then to the gentle rolling plains and the long straight road.  We drove on wide empty roads, so empty in places that we wondered from time to time if we had missed a road closed sign.

Eventually we arrived at the industrial town of Tarancón, which was not a place to hang around so we drove swiftly through and then followed a more direct route than we had taken this morning directly back to Chinchón where preparations for tomorrow’s bullfight were stepping up and there were a number of road closures that made it somewhat difficult to get back to the hotel and then some parking restrictions that meant having to pay to use the underground car park.

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H is for Hanging Houses but it could well have been:

Hemingway

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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.

Read the full story…