Vertical Cuenca

Cuenca awaits

Browsing through my folders–Dear Technology students, They’re not carpets--of photos, you’ll notice that I am a fan of the Horizontal Shot. No need to turn the camera, no need to rotate the photos once they’re uploaded. Horizontal Shots are the perfect shape to fill a laptop background or slap onto a cheesy gift. I often lament my lack of a wide-angle lens, with which I could squeeze even more peripheral goodness into each frame.

And then I went to Cuenca, land of the Vertical Photograph. The lay of the land demands a look forward and up, not a sweeping left-to-right. At times you will find yourself craning your neck back, back, back, to take in the buildings that jut, defiantly, into a sudden nothingness.

 

Yep, they’re still hangin’ out

Indeed, the chief attractions in Cuenca, a two-hour bus ride from Madrid, are the casas colgadas. According to the official tourism page for the region of Castilla-La Mancha, although these hanging houses were renovated in the 20th century, they date as far back as the 14th century.

You should not leave town without glimpsing the interior of the houses. This can be achieved legally in two ways:

1) dining at the Mesón Casas Colgadas

2) perusing the Museo de Arte Abstracto Español

Cuenca’s Abstract Spanish Art Museum

I opted for the latter, browsing the abstract sculptures and paintings by famous Spanish artists such as Chillida, Saura, and Tàpies. The plain whitewash of these traditional structures works surprisingly well as a backdrop for the modern art.

Vista from inside the museum

At the base of the houses you’ll find a bridge which yields more views of Cuenca’s star attraction.

Aforementioned bridge, looking toward the casas colgadas

The walkway takes you over the Huécar River

A skip across the bridge yields impressive views of the town’s parador, which was a convent in a former life

And, finally, a horizontal last shot

Additional Reading: This New York Times article from last year is a great primer on Cuenca, and argues for why the town could compete with Toledo as a top day-trip destination from Madrid.

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