Sunday, December 9, 2007

Cuenca and Ciudad Encantada

View of Cuenca

Cuenca, the capital of Cuenca province is exactly between Madrid and Valencia (165km either way). It is built on top of a rock above the rivers Huécar and Júcar.

Cuenca is divided into the historical part on top of the hill and the new part at the bottom. In the new part are plenty of cheap hostals and shops, but otherwise not much else to see. We stayed at Posada los Tintes for 35 € a room. Nothing special but clean.

The historical part is a steep walk, we only discovered later that you can actually drive and park all the way up.

When you walk across the San Pablo bridge, you get the best view of the Casas Colgadas, the 'Hanging houses' which are built literally into the rocks.

You get to the Puente de San Pablo via Plaza Mayor. Plaza Mayor is also very pretty and very touristy. The cathedral has Gothic and Renaissance elements and is certainly worth a visit.

The Casas Colgadas from the Puente de San Pablo

The most fascinating attraction of Cuenca Province is Ciudad Encantada (The Enchanted City), about 25km northeast of Cuenca city. It is actually not a city at all, it is an area of amazing rock formations formed by water and weather. It is like a big park and after a small entry fee of 3 € you can enjoy a relaxing walk (1 ½ to 2 h) in a magnificent environment.

Most of the rock formations are labeled according to what they look like.

El Hombre (The Man)

Los Osos (The bears)

El Puente Romano (The Roman Bridge)

Las Barcas ( The boats)

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Segovia in one day

Segovias impressive Gothic cathedral on Plaza Mayor in the Old City.

Segovia, capital of Segovia province is situated northeast of Madrid. It is about 1000m above sea level, which makes a noticeable difference to the climate. It is usually a lot cooler than in Madrid or Castilla-La-Mancha. Although on our visit in late October it was T-Shirt warm.

There are two main attractions you have to see in Segovia. One is the 29m high aqueduct that crosses Plaza del Azoguejo, the other one is the Alcázar, which is at the west end of Segovia where the rivers Río Clamores and Río Eresma meet.

The old part of the city is pleasant to walk through with its cafes and bars, churches and interesting old buildings with storks nesting on the top. And it would not be a true Spanish City if it didn't have a Plaza Mayor. On our visit the square was covered with colourful market stalls and yelling vendors. In the background we could see the impressive cathedral, that usually dominates the square.

The Roman aqueduct with 118 arches goes across Plaza del Azoguejo.

The Alcázar and its numerous towers seems like a fantasy palace.

The palace is built on top of a hill, so you don't have to go up the towers to get a spectacular view.

The markets on Plaza Mayor with the cathedral in the background.

Like most cities in Spain, Segovia has its own style of facades. Here are two of the patterns you find all over the city.