The hanging houses of Cuenca are located, as their name indicates in the city of Cuenca, a city about 2 hours southeast from Madrid. They are an iconic fixture of Castilla la Mancha as are, for example, the Don Quijote Windmills, and have been declared a UNESCO world heritage site.
The city of Cuenca is worth visiting, even if you don’t visit the hanging houses. The city is built high up on a cliff and features a spectacular old quarter, a majestic cathedral, and some of the best food you will taste in Castilla la Mancha.
If you are traveling from Madrid, the simplest way is by car. The drive takes about 2 hours and it will take you through some beautiful country. You can even choose to take a slight detour and visit the Royal Palace of Aranjuez as you travel south from Spain’s capital.
If you are staying in Barcelona, Cuenca might not be the best option for a day trip. Whether you are traveling by car or by train, it will take about 6 hours, and there is no good connection. If you are up to the trek or you are on you way to another region of Spain, then go right ahead.
Another great option is to take the train. There are trains that leave from the Atocha train station in the center of town practically every hour. It will take about an hour to get there and cost about 50€ round-trip. the Cuenca train station is located in the center of town so this is a great option as well. If you choose to walk from the station to the hanging houses it will take about half an hour but it will allow you to stroll through town and get a taste of what Cuenca is all about before you reach your destination.
These peculiar houses get their name because they are built on the edge of a cliff with the large balconies that project outward, suspended over the Húecar river below. The houses were first depicted by the Flemish artist Anton van den Wyngaerde in 1565.
The original hanging houses were built in the years between the XIII century to the XV century, making it all the more impressive. Over the years they have needed renovations and upkeep, of course, but the buildings have been standing for centuries. Only three 100% original houses still stand and can be visited.
One of the more modern buildings houses the Spanish Museum of Abstract Art. The museum displays an assortment of sculptures and paintings from the 50’s and 60’s belonging to the abstract movement. Artists like Antoni Tàpies, Eduardo Chillida, and Fernando Zobel are all featured in this wonderful little museum.