Thursday, April 20, 2023

Last week in Spain...Historic Cuenca

We're winding down after five weeks in Spain. Since we changed our plans and skipped Paris, we headed to Cuenca which is halfway between the coast and Madrid.

Cuenca is an ancient city built on a mountain between two rivers and named a world heritage site because of its landscape and architecture from the 12th to the 18th century. So many of its buildings are built into the mountain and some (Casas Colgadas) are hanging off the cliffs. The city's history goes back to the 700's when the Moors came to the area. We stayed in a newer (but still old) section of town at the level of the river which meant walking up the mountain about 20 minutes everyday to see museums and sites. We got lots of walking and steps in everyday. The best of the city to me was the many views and photo opportunities of this ancient city. 

We are back to our slower pace after the week with our family friends in Alicante which means back to our meditation and tai chi in the mornings, our cup of decaf latte/americano and then heading up to the old city center.

Spanish is spoken here almost exclusively and again we have not seen nor heard any Americans for the whole week. We started the week with a tour of the history and main buildings. We observed and understood some of the stories but our Spanish did not allow us to get every detail. There were no guides in English. Throughout the rest of the week we went daily to one or more of the museums and sites.

Cathedral of Santa Maria de Gracia - Gothic architecture and very large church built where the original Moslem Mosque was located. 

Museum de Ciencias (Science) - an interesting museum of the past, present and future with respect to many areas of science, geology, space, etc. There were many interactive exhibits and we experienced the simulation of a 9.2 earthquake which shook me up for several hours afterwards. My whole body was in shock after just a few seconds. I would never like to experience such an event again. As many of the buildings in the center of town, there were incredible views to be had.

Art collection of Roberto Polo - modern art collection

Puente de San Pablo to the Convento of San Pablo - bridge over the river to the building that is now a Parador of Turismo (hotels in historic settings).

Museo de Arte Abstracto, situated in one of the hanging houses. The city has many collections of modern Spanish artists.

Museum of Cuenca - told the history of Cuenca

A special day included a walk along the two rivers that surround the town giving us a better understanding of the geography of the area.

Tomorrow we are off to Madrid for our flight home on Saturday.

I have much gratitude to be back to traveling again and that we were able to do so many physical days of walking miles and many up and down stairs and hills. After these several years of not having our traveling days we were so happy to be back to it. Traveling to different cultures allows us to experience different worlds and learn about different lifestyles. We are so glad to have you all traveling with us.

And from Ricardo...

I have no regrets for traveling to Cuenca. It has much to offer but with a few caveats. First, you will need some command of the Spanish language and second, good legs to walk up and down the mountain to the museums and other attractions  unless you live up at the top.  We chose to live in a newer part of the city, on the flats. This is a very old city built on a mountain. On top is a very famous church in the same location that the mosque used to be along with many interesting museums.

Cuenca is 3000 feet high with a population of 55,000 that has seen its growth change over the years. Like many places in the world, there is difficulty finding workers to support this mainly tourist industry so most of this type of labor has been brought in from South America, very interesting indeed. They speak Castellano Spanish here with no other regional dialect.

There are two rivers running down from the higher peaks which flow around this old city and then join at the end to become one river. It is very picturesque and unlike other parts of southern Spain there is a forest and many green spaces, Cuenca has water which is very drinkable but I still purchased bottle water out of habit.
We are now one hour from Madrid, which we will be flying from on Saturday morning. I’m not going to recommend this place unless seeing a very old city fits your kind if travel. For us it’s been a great place to be as we wind down our time in Spain. 
Thanks for traveling with us.

Sending love,


  1. Looking forward to seeing you soon. Big Hugs and Love
    Lily + Howard

  2. Thanks for sharing. Safe travels

  3. Great and informative post. I had spent a month in Malaga which is a much bigger city but equally fascinating with excellent resources. Malaga and Rhonda which is a smaller city popular with Hemingway and Washington Irving are also a good choice for longer term visits.

  4. Thanks Richard and Susan! Safe travels tomorrow. Linda D.