Houses that sort of form part of a cliff – talk about living on the edge. Ultimately, it was the famous pictures of the hanging houses of Cuenca that drew us to this unique town, and although the pictures are amazing – they do the real thing very little justice!
The hanging houses of Cuenca are an absolute must-see when visiting Spain. Especially if you are using Toledo, Valencia or Madrid as a home base. And just as a little side note: A bike tour of this town is an amazing way to see everything from the El Barranco to Quinta de Bolívar (the location which Bolívar used to rest and plan military and political actions when in Cuenca), all in one day.
Three sides of the old part of Cuenca is surrounded by a deep gorge, carved out by two rivers. Along the cliffs of this gorge, a number of houses can be seen hanging off the cliff. These hanging houses, or ‘casas colgadas’ in Spanish, date all the way back to the 1400’s AD.
Your journey up to the old town starts at the bottom of an inclining group of stairs. Soon you may find yourself huffing and puffing as you realize there are actually quite a lot of stairs to climb before you reach the old city. As you walk (on and upwards) along the street, take the time to enjoy the beautiful colours of the buildings before entering the Plaza Mayor.
Spanish Museum of Abstract Art
Probably the most photographed of all of the hanging houses, is also the location of the Museo de Arte Abstracto (Spanish Museum of Abstract Art). This museum displays a collection of paintings and sculptures by Spanish artists dating back to the abstract generation of the 50s and 60s.
Tip: Standing on the balcony of the museum’s gift shop will give you an up-close view of the gorge.
The Plaza Mayor
The Plaza Mayor is located close to the center of the old town of Cuenca and is home to the Cuenca cathedral and some little shops and restaurants.
The cathedral dates back to the1200’s, while construction continued into the 1500’s. At the back end of the cathedral (close to the museum), you will find a pedestrian bridge that crosses the gorge. This is the best viewing spot for capturing the hanging houses, while also giving you a real idea of the actual depth of the gorge too.
The cathedral can be found on the east side of the plaza, and tours of the cathedral can be organized and even combined with walking and bike tours of the city too. The entrance into the church is free, however, you will need to pay to see the gold and silver work in the Museo Catedralicio which is located behind the high altar.
Why Visit The Hanging Houses of Cuenca?
Overhanging the Huécar River, the Cuenca hanging houses are without a doubt some of the most unique architectures that Spain has to offer (and Spain has a lot).
So if you’re someone that loves to travel and taking pictures of historic architecture, then these houses that cling to the side of the Cuenca Gorge is definitely a cool day trip from Madrid, Valencia or even Toledo.