Touring Spain – Culture Break to Cuenca, Castilla La Mancha

Visit to Cuenca, August 2010

We set off during the evening from Murcia and stopped overnight at Albacete, Hotel Santa Isabel **** – just off A31 can be seen from the motorway on the north side of Albacete (has Decathlon opposite) – fabulous new hotel built in retro-Normandy chateau style – on the edge of an industrial estate!! No expense has been spared with the classical/boutique style interior & furnishings – don’t miss the owner’s collection of vintage cars & motorbikes some dating back to 1905 and can be seen in the garage below the hotel!! Our double room was 70 euros for the night, great value for money.

Contact Hotel Santa Isabel
Phone Email
00 34 967 264 680 recepcion@hotelsantaisabelalbacete.com
Web Address
www.hotelsantaisabelalbacetecom Avenida Gregorio Arcos, 02007, Albacete

Day 1, Onwards to Cuenca through stunning scenery….
Cuenca, historical & cultural city, is located in the region of Castilla-La Mancha. The region has seen a traumatic history with many battles between the Christian crusaders & the Muslim forces as early as the 8th century. The region is known for the production of sun flowers, olives, mushrooms, Manchego cheese and windmills, the latter being featured in the worldly famous novel Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. UNESCO declared Cuenca a World Heritage City and will be the European City of Culture for 2016. We spent a few days in this wonderful city and the surrounding region.

Cuenca is divided into two clear parts – old and new. The modern city is low lying and the old quarter has been cconstructed on the imposing limestone cliffs that jut up from the Huecar valley floor. The “hanging houses” (casas colgadas) are an astounding landmark symbol of the city where medieval properties were built over the edge of the limestone escarpments. One of these casas colgadas houses the Museum of Abstract Art.

The Parador, a converted 16th century convent is situated on a rocky outcrop looking upwards to the old quarter. With frescos and ornate plasterwork everywhere and a tranquil garden that now fills the cloister, guests could not fail to marvel over its culture and historical value. Definitely a special place to stay.

Contact Cuenca Parador Hotel ****
Phone Email Web
00 34 969 232 320 cuenca@parador.es www.paradores.es

Construction of the cathedral of Nuestra Senora de Gracia began in the 12th century and is one of the earliest examples of Spanish Gothic style. It’s the City’s jewel, along with the attached Episcopal Palace and the unusual Town Hall that traverses above the main vehicular access from the modern quarter to “Plaza Mayor” (main square) and more of the old quarter of the city. The facade of the Cathedral was restored in the 1920’s. The cathedral and other museums charge an entry fee but they are minimal, usually around 2-3 euros, all are well worth visiting. There is a free bus service operating regularly that ferries people up and down the old quarter, over the wonderful medieval cobbled streets.

We stayed in a “hostal” which translates as a guest house, La Tabanqueta **, Calle Trabuco (opposite side to the church of Santa Pedro, just up from bus stop)

Contact La Tabanqueta Hostal **
Phone Email Web
00 34 969 211 290 info@hostaltabanqueta.com www.hostaltabanqueta.com

Our room offered breathtaking views over the River Jucar, more than 100ft below, looking up the valley. We would recommend Room 4. Worth every cent of the 50 euros fee for our double room per night! Simply decorated with excellent ensuite facilities. The rooms have been fully renovated in 2010. Unusual for Spain, the room includes a kettle with tea and coffee, plus a nibble of croissant/sweet pastry – we couldnt ask for more!

Day 2 off to Ciudad Encantada & Uña

A journey not to be missed, took CM2104 – wow – stunning scenery with breathtaking views as you wind your way upwards to higher places! First stop “el mirador de Uña” (viewing point) – enjoy a beautiful stroll or drive through woodland via dirt road for about 1.5km, then come upon an amazing view – enjoy!! If you are lucky the eagles will be soaring on the thermals!

Second stop, breakfast in the hotel opposite Ciudad Encantada which is just across the road from the start of the walk to view Uña. Ciudad Encantada – 3 euro entry fee – prepare to be amazed, yet again! Wander through ancient (prehistoric) rock formations, unique experience again not to be missed!

Follow the CM2104 until it joins with the CM2105, take the right hand turning towards Uña and follow the road down towards this beautiful hamlet beside a natural lake. If you drive through the village and follow the sign for the lake there is a beautiful view point.
Back into the village and the main “square” consists of a two restaurants beside each other, both offering menu del dia and a la carte. I ate trout that had been caught in the lake that morning!

There is one hotel in the village which also has wooden cabins beside the lake. Our cabin was 55 euros for the night

Day 3 Source of the River Cuervo

After about 30 minutes of driving through breathtaking countryside, arrive at the woodland walk up to the source of the river. Ample parking and picnic areas abound. Pass by mysterious waterfalls and scenery, plenty of opportunity for great photos of wildlife, flora and fauna. Across from the parking area there are a couple of restaurants offering varied menus.

If you are looking to experience some “real” Spain, why not take a few days out of your coastal holiday and visit the interior, immersing yourself in its history and culture. The journey to Cuenca from Los Alcazares is roughly 3 hours – this is not the most direct route via motorways, but through some unmissable countryside.

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