For some reason Cuenca doesn’t get the press among tourists it deserves. Travellers in Madrid who need a day-out opt for Toledo, but this surprising gem just two-hour drive from Madrid is the perfect mix of historic monuments and abstract design.
Access to Cuenca is a whole lot easier now that the newest high-speed rail route linking Madrid and Valencia was inaugurated, with a stop in Cuenca along the way. Journey time via AVE is a mere 45 minutes from Madrid Atocha Station. Even more, Madrid is a hot destination for low cost airlines, making cheap flights to Madrid very easy to come by.
For such a modestly-sized city, Cuenca has a host of cultural offerings. Its entire Old Town, which is considered a UNESCO site, consists of tiny paths winding in and out of century-old buildings that cling to the rocks, almost slipping off the edge of the hillside. Famous are the casas colgadas, meaning “hanging houses” which appear to be precariously perched above the gorge.
Cuenca was the hub for abstract art in Spain during the 1960s and today the city keeps this alive. Those with an inkling for the abstract arts should head to the Museo de Arte Abstracto Español. Pieces by the likes of Gerardo Rueda, Antionio Saura and Gustavo Torner adorn the walls. Sculptures by northern-born Eduardo Chillida fill the spaces in the middle of the gallery rooms. It’s an abstract art lovers dream come true.
Cuenca is home to a dozen other art galleries dedicated to Spanish abstract art, tucked into corners of the old town, almost unnoticed by those walking past.
Entirely impressive as well is the city’s Gothic cathedral which was started in 1182 and, like most churches in the area, took a major hit during the Spanish Civil War. Today it has been entirely reconstructed beautifully with stained glass and side chapels designed by the city’s leading artists, Torner and Rueda.
What abstract lovers should see in Cuenca:
- Cuenca Cathedral (Plaza Mayor) – €2.80
- Museo de Arte Abstracto Español (Casas Colgadas) – €3
- Fundación Antonio Pérez (Ronda Julián Romero) – Free
- Espacio Torner (Hoz del Huécar) – €3
- Museo Diocesano (Calle Obispo Valero 1) – €2
- Museo ArsNatura (Calle Rio Gritos 5) – €3
What attracts you most to the cities you visit: art, culture, food, sights, sports, others?