Casas Colgadas, Cuenca
Casas Colgadas (Hanging Houses)
The Casas Colgadas are the iconic symbols of Cuenca. Hanging precariously on a cliff above the deep gorge of the Huécar river, they defy gravity. There used to be more hanging houses in Cuenca but only three have survived to this day. The Museo de Arte Abstracto Español occupies two of these houses. To get a good perspective of their hairy perch, walk downhill to the Puente de San Pablo which straddles the gorge.
Hanging Houses from Puente de San Pablo
The footbridge of San Pablo is a good vantage point for a sweeping view of this fortress town. Look down and you'll appreciate the depth of the gorge. Look up and you'll see how the balconies of the Casas Colgadas seem suspended in the air. Look behind you for a panoramic view of the highest section of the old hill town. And across the bridge is the Parador de Cuenca, a former monastery from the 16th century which has been converted into a government-run hotel.
View of the gorge of Huécar and Parador de Cuenca
It's well worth the entrance fee to the museum to see its contemporary art collection and get a close look at these finely crafted wooden balconies. You cannot step out on the balcony but the view through glass doors is exhilirating enough with the canyon directly below.
There are portions of the house that have been left intact after renovations were made in the 20th century to accommodate the museum. The provenance of the lattice window with late Gothic tracery (located by the stairs leading to the first floor) has been linked to the same shop which made the parapets for the Triforium of the Cathedral of Cuenca. This is not surprising as one of the former owners of the house, Gonzalo González de Cañamares, was a canon of the Cathedral in the late 15th century. His family's coat of arms can be found in the house.
The Museo de Arte Abstracto Español is a unique museum. It blends art and architecture under one roof. Above, a beamed ceiling complements the contemporary art on display.
Calle Canónigos, Cuenca
Entrance fee: 3€ as of this writing
Images by TravelswithCharie