On Wednesday I said goodbye to Madrid and took a train to Cuenca, the ticket for which I had cunningly queued up for (only 45 minutes this time) and bought the day before, having learnt my lesson with Toledo.
On arrival, I did my usual “I wonder which way the centre of town is” hunt for clues (bus stops are useful) and was delighted to find a big sign just outside the station directing me to a tourist information booth just up the road. It wasn’t manned but they had stuck a map up in the window, complete with hotels, so I was able to find myself a nice cheap hostal without any wandering all over town. So far, top marks to Cuenca tourist board.
Unfortunately, they scored nil points later when I discovered that their main office was closed for the day, along with all their little outpost booths (inside which I could see tantalising piles of maps), because it was some kind of random local religious festival. Do they think tourists don’t visit on saints’ days? Anyway, the town was small and the map reasonably remember-able, so off I went uphill to the old town. Lots of uphill.
Although described the UN as a walled city, and indeed it does have some walls, the main defensive aspect is its position on a rocky outcrop that has sheer sides in places and a small river at the base. Cuenca was a medieval fortress town that grew up on the site of the earlier Moorish one. The streets are narrow and steep or stepped and it apparently has Spain’s first gothic cathedral, which looks to me like someone sliced the top off the facade.
The some very tall and thin houses and some that have a front entrance off a street four storeys above the back of the house. The town is famous for the hanging houses, which are fairly self explanatory when you see a photograph:
Naturally it was these that got today’s Lego treatment: