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Perched on a rugged lime­stone hill­top, the charm­ing me­dieval town of Cuenca beck­ons trav­ellers to ex­plore its nar­row cob­ble­stone streets, an­cient ar­chi­tec­ture and mod­ern art mu­se­ums. Just an hour via high-speed train from Va­len­cia and Madrid, Cuenca is worth a day trip, or an overnighter if you want some respite from the big, bustling cities. Cuenca con­sists of two parts: the old town in the high quar­ter, which is about 1,000 years old, and the new town that sprung up in the 19th cen­tury. In 1996, Cuenca was named World Heritage site by UNESCO thanks to the preser­va­tion of its orig­i­nal ur­ban land­scape such as the me­dieval fortress and rich col­lec­tion of civil and re­li­gious ar­chi­tec­ture from the 12th to 18th cen­turies. In the 16th cen­tury, Cuenca was said to have the high­est “apart­ment” in Spain. Art buffs will en­joy the Mu­seum of Ab­stract Arts lo­cated in the spec­tac­u­lar 14th cen­tury Casas Col­gadas or old hang­ing houses built on the rocky cliff edge. It was said that in 1907, the owner of the last hang­ing house sold it for 9 eu­ros. To­day, the mu­seum’s art­work jux­ta­poses with im­pos­ing views of the canyon walls of the Cuenca Moun­tains. Con­sider stay­ing overnight at the Cuenca Parador Ho­tel, a beau­ti­fully re­stored 16th cen­tury Do­mini­can con­vent house where King Felipe of Spain and Queen Le­tizia stayed dur­ing the first night of their hon­ey­moon. The ho­tel, which over­looks the his­tor­i­cal hang­ing houses, is con­nected to the cen­tre of the old town via a hang­ing bridge. When your visit is over, lug back some alajú, an Ara­bic con­fec­tion made of nuts, honey, dried fruits, cin­na­mon and or­ange zest, sand­wiched be­tween wafers.

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