There were once some hanging houses...
The city of Cuenca is high. Very high. At more than 900 metres above ground level, its profile is a block that rises above the ground. Marked by incredible buildings that had the old city declared a World Heritage Site in 1996, among all of the buildings the hanging houses stand out for their originality and mystery as structures built on a cliff that make one feel dizzy by just looking at them.
Although it is said that in times past much of the cliff was full of this type of construction, now only three survivors still defy gravity every day. With an uncertain origin in the centuries of the Reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula, it is not known whether they are Arab or Christian but it is known that the first reference to their existence dates from the fifteenth century. Without being standard buildings, according to art historian Pedro Miguel Ibáñez Martinez they are "the end product of a metamorphosed complex evolution of more or less popular private architecture, an icon of mass consumption and, with their exceptional artistic content, a myth of modernity".
Ibañez marks the beginning of the history of these monuments in 1565 with the excellent drawing of the Flemish Van den Wyngaerde, to whom Felipe II commissioned a series of landscapes of cities under his sovereignty. Compared with the early pictures of the place made in the late nineteenth century, these show that the architecture remained intact for several centuries to finally and irremediably come into the twentieth century like so many other things.
The hanging houses, refurbished over the time, are now home to an inn that cradles the Museum of Abstract Art of Cuenca, which has a permanent collection of over 120 paintings by Spanish masters of abstraction such as Millares, Tàpies, Sempere, Torner, Rueda, Zobel and Saura. The fact is that one of the most interesting features of Cuenca is that in its historical centre, besides all the string of buildings with character, there are over 10 museums where visitors can be entertained with science, learn about art or the history of Cuenca, a city so beautiful that a Japanese cartoon series took it as its fantasy world.
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