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Cuenca, Spain, Christmas 2009


By balcony


I promised another blog on Cuenca, Spain – this time without the snow (or the sunshine!).

We arrived at Cuenca Rail Station at 10.30 at night – just like I did for the very first time back in 1972!

A close up of Cuenca Station:

In Cuenca, Spain, where we spent Christmas, there is an iron bridge called St Paul’s Bridge which joins together the two sides of the Huecar Gorge. This bridge is several 100 feet high & below it the River Huecar passes like a silver thread. Well usually it’s silver though when I crossed the bridge a couple of weeks ago, due to all the heavy rain we had the “silver” bit was a wide, muddy ribbon! If you guys are afraid of crossing a the huge metal & concrete monsters of bridges you’d be petrified to death just putting a foot on St Paul’s Bridge (my wife can tell some tales of how they used to jump up & down on the bridge when she was a girl, to frighten the tourists!!) :-D

Saint Paul bridge

The St. Paul bridge (Puente de San Pablo) was built from 1533 to 1589, a construction driven by the canon Juan del Pozo, over the river Huecar’s Gorge, aiming at connecting the old town with St Paul convent.

The original bridge collapsed, and the current one was built in 1902, made of wood and steel according to the style dominating at the beginning of the 20th century. It is up to 60 metres high, and supported upon the remains of the old bridge.


The bridge was being refurbished when I last saw it over 3 years ago at the time of my son’s wedding. At the time it was still being repainted & I didn’t like the dark red paint they were using but seeing it finished & all the scaffolding & nets removed it does seem a good choice of colour after all!

I took this photo of the bridge on January 3rd 2010. The River Huecar is hardly visible here but one of the stone buttresses the iron bridge is anchored to is almost in the water.

The “floor” of the bridge is made up of beams thicker than railway sleepers & so closely packed together that there’s hardly a tiny gap to be found – a very different story as to how I first found it back in 1972! Then many of the sleepers were rotting & you almost crossed it in trepidation! But it was several more years before they replaced them. During the years I lived there they were replaced on several occasions. The new sleepers seem to me to be thicker than previous ones. I felt it lost some of its charm – but I suppose Heath & Safety rules!

One sad aspect of this bridge is that it has been used quite frequently for suicides! There have been proposals for dealing with this “phenomenon”, such as extending netting, but have obviously been discarded, no doubt on financial grounds as well as aesthetic. Fortunately they are not common & I haven’t heard of any in the last 10 years.

From the bridge you have the ideal view point, & every tourist sees this, for taking photos of the Casas Colgadas (Hanging Houses):

This is a close up of the side as you come out of a short tunnel excavated in the living rock underneath the Houses.

These Houses once were the summer residence of the Kings & Queens of Spain! They later, like all monarchs over time, fell out of favour & were about to be demolished. They were rescued by the Spanish government in the 1950s & practically rebuild. They became the tourist symbol of Cuenca & a restaurant was built there & in the Kings House (The Hanging Houses are comprised of two houses) Spain’s best Abstract Art museum was founded & some famous sculptors & painters have their works exhibited there.I visited them a couple of times. (It’s the white house with only one balcony) One artist created views of Cuenca by cutting “windows” into the walls of one room!

This photo I took from the middle of St Paul’s Bridge above.

At the same time I took the photo above I took one of the back of the Bishops Palace & the Cathedral of Cuenca

In the following photo you can see the façade of the Episcopal Palace as well as a corner of the Cathedral

Here I took a picture of the plaques, that are also found on very many other building of interest, giving the name of the building as well as the dates of its construction, (XVI,XVIII). There is even one that points to the Episcopal Museum, which was closed when I passed it. I never did visit it when I lived there!

The Huecar Valley (or Hoz) was always my favourite valley to explore in the spring & very early summer. It has a tremendous amount of flora then! Yet the Jucar Valley (or Hoz) is quite poor in flora! But what the Jucar Valley lacks in native flora it makes up for in the abundance of Pine Trees planted as reforestation efforts long before I arrived in Cuenca & clapped my eyes on them for the first time! Then they impressed me as I had never seen so many trees stretching for mile after mile. I took a few photos of these Pine Trees as I did for the first time nearly 40 years ago.

A closer up look at the angles these Pines adopt on the steep valley slopes.

Some more Pines with some houses, hardly visible, on the outskirts of the city.

As it was spitting with rain at times the photo is a little blurred. It was a cold, damp day when I took the photos although it was the last of our two half days of sun. The morning sun gave way to early afternoon cloud & eventually to rain.

Pine trees were practically the only trees to be found. But I did find lots & lots of wild Clematis scrambling over everything as well as plenty of Ivy. I’ll post a 2nd, & last!, blog in a day or two & I will show you some very impressive Ivies!.

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wow you got at least some pics in between the rain.
thanks for sharing that bridge would scare any one crossing it

18 Jan, 2010


This is really something else thanks for adding these to growsonyou what to go.

18 Jan, 2010


Jikes, that is a high bridge & those Buildings nestled on the side?? not for me, gorgeous though. Are they in the Earth Quack zone???does not look like it as it is still standing after all those years. Neat blog.

19 Jan, 2010


Lovely blog! I feel as though I've been there! Glad you enjoyed your visit. :o)

19 Jan, 2010


Oh, I have enjoyed this Balcony......I had a look on Google about Cuenca yesterday. Those precarious houses built into the rocks, they are incredible! And the bridge, are you able to drive your car across? Do you get strong winds whistling down through the gorge....the way the pines have grown? Heavy rock and stony ground and yet small seeds survive and weather the environment....great blog....looking forward to seeing the that with the creamy white flowers, we used to have this type on our land, and the Ivies of you have wild Asparagus growing too, that was great to eat but the bane of my garden!

19 Jan, 2010


Very interesting. Never mind there was no sun. The houses clinging on to that cliff were very impressive. It's as if they were growing out of the very rock itself.

19 Jan, 2010


Fascinating... added to GoYpedia Balconies.

19 Jan, 2010


Gulp!! Brilliant blog but I’m going to have to go and lay down now I’m scared of heights !

19 Jan, 2010


Fantastic!~ don't think I would be venturing out on those balconies~saw a video on utube looks fantastic~ although I am not happy with narrow roads with sheer drops at the side!....

19 Jan, 2010


Nor me, Arlene - I'm scared of heights. Not sure if I would be able to cross the bridge. Lovely old buildings - what a view they must have!

19 Jan, 2010


Thanks everyone for your comments! So glad you didn't find it boring! I was afraid I was "harping" on too much! In a couple of days I'll make a 2nd part to finish.

One of the things that struck me was how barren the centre of the city was! I suppose I didn't notice while I lived there. There is very little in the way of vegetable life, no gardens, hardly any trees, no balconies full of plants. :-(

When I got back here I almost suffered from agoraphobia everything was sooo far apart & FLAT!!! It brought back to me that I felt exactly the same when I moved back here nearly 9 years ago! I got over it within a few days but I liked Cuenca so much I considered it my 2nd(?) home!!! In fact that should be my 1st home as I lived more years in Cuenca than in any place in the UK! I spent the 1st 15 years of my existence in London, but I spent 19 years in Cuenca in one stint! I have lived in Cuenca on other occasions for a few years each time as well as a few years in Madrid. I've also spent a few years on different occasions in Huntingdon, though these last 9 years are the longest period I've lived here.

The old city is quite a contrast really as I will show you in my next blog. Yet Cuenca has many parks & the modern ones are full of grass, very expensive to water twice a day - even with automated watering systems! I wasn't able to visit any of the parks while we were there due to the constant rain that kept us "bottled" up in our son's flat most of the time.

19 Jan, 2010


Looks a fascinating place and the history made it so interesting, that is a real feat of engineneering, enjoyed it very much thanks Balcony

19 Jan, 2010


Very interesting and informative blog, do not know the area, impressed with the bridge although it looks very flimsy compared to the lovely bridges in France.It is never boring to visit other countries, so, thanks for the visit.

19 Jan, 2010


lovely blog balcony,very interesting ,i have not heard of cuenca before so thank you for letting us have a visit, even if i did have to grip the arms of my chair looking at some photos lol..

19 Jan, 2010


Yes, DD, I do know the area - a little. I lived there for more than 20 years! I assure you there is nothing flimsy about that bridge - it's probably stronger than the original stone one! I knew of a painting of the stone bridge but I don't know if it still exists.

Joanella, Glad I could inform you of Cuenca, it's a really lovely old city though with plenty of modern hustle & bustle, especially in the modern city. There are huge housing developments all over the city. There are enormous super giant supermarkets there. A thriving university sector & an immense hospital. A new high speed railway is being built there & in a couple of years Cuenca will have a super modern state-of-the-art railway station. It already has a super duper dual carriageway motorway that puts to shame the back streets we call motorways here!

Don't anybody go getting the idea that Cuenca is just a quaint old little city lost in the heartland of Spain. It's a very modern flourishing European city!

If I'd been able to get out & about while we were there over Christmas I would have taken many photos of the modern city. The modern & the ancient are about as alike as chalk & cheese!

20 Jan, 2010


Will look forward to seeing more pictures on your return journey?

21 Jan, 2010


it is funny how abroad they seem to mix old & new together & it seems to work ,in malta i saw many old buildings with new buildings built on the top of them ,even though the older ones underneath were not in good condition..sounds like a lot going on in cuenca i will have a look at it on net when i have time..:o)

21 Jan, 2010


My computer went off a few days ago & I'm now without my computer & having to use my wife´s!

I tried everything I could to get it going again but nothing worked. I thought I had backups but when I put them in I got a message saying it was corrupt, even though it passed the verification process after being made. The backup was only made last November of all my computer - a disc image, as it is called.

I am now making my way back to places like this but many of my photos are now inaccessible, locked in the other computer. Some, those that are on my mobile phone, I can recover & I've already transferred many to this computer, others are waiting to see if the computer can be fixed or until I can move the 2nd hard drive to this computer.

It make take longer therefore to make the 2nd blog of Christmas in Cuenca. :-( I still have to find where the photos of the Ivy I had promised reside. I think they must still be on my mobile but with well over 1,000 photos to search through it's not going to be easy!

23 Jan, 2010


Oh dear what a shame, I do hope you find them, it is so distressing to lose your pics, at the moment mine are backed up on my ipod and all my music, as photos and music amount to 8,000 I would be devastated, I am looking at some portable hard drives, very reasonable now and they are so small (Amazon are brilliant have so many to chose from) so good luck....

23 Jan, 2010


~ my son has backed a lot of stuff onto a hard drive called "my disk"~ photos etc which you don't want to lose ~but hindsight usually comes too late Balcony~ I hope you can retrieve your photos!

23 Jan, 2010


what a shame balcony hope you can get them back,i have no back up for mine at all i wouldnt know where to start...

23 Jan, 2010


I have them all stored on the 2nd hard drive, so there is no danger they will be lost! I now need to transfer the HD to this computer. It's not something I have done before. I've opened up both our computers & have installed one or two things but I'm not very technically minded & I'm always frightened I will do something to mess up the computer.

Apart from the hard disc I need to install some memory modules but I'm not sure if the ones from my old computer are compatible with this one. The memory on this computer is terrible, only 250Mb! Most computer now come with at least 1Gb of memory many with 2, 3 or even 4Gb!

26 Jan, 2010


~Balcony we have 16gb on our imac at the moment~ you need a mac!

26 Jan, 2010


Arlene I agree, love mine, I have an iMac the best computer I have ever owned......

26 Jan, 2010


I'm not referring to hard disc storage but to the memory. This computer has over 70 Gb of storage space & is only half full.

Being unemployed I have no money to buy a new computer so I'm using my wife's old computer. She has a laptop which she uses most of the time. This computer has been "spare" for the last two years.

The 2nd hard disc in my computer has more than twice as much storage. I have been using it as a back up for 3 or 4 years & it it is coming close to being full. I want to move that Hard disc to this computer but this computer is very low on memory. The problem is I don't know if the memory in my old computer is compatible with the memory in this computer. If it were I could increase the memory to nearly 1Gb. That would make the computer more reliable & a lot faster.

I was searching today for some of the photos I took of Cuenca, especially those of the ivy in the streets of Cuenca. But they were taken with my digital camera & now they are on the old computer. The photos taken with the mobile phone are on this computer as well as on my old one as I hadn't deleted them from the phone & was able to copy them here. So it looks as though the 2nd part of this blog will be longer in coming than I anticipated!

27 Jan, 2010


We can hang on........I understand what you mean about the memory, you could google the compatibility problem, I would have to take mine to the Apple Store, very difficult to get into as it is an all in one.

28 Jan, 2010


I know what memory modules this computer uses but I don't know what memory modules my old computer uses & now I have no way of finding out either! Unless it is actually written on them & the only way to find out is to take them out of the old computer. Different motherboards take different memory modules if the old ones are not compatible with this computer's motherboard then I won't be able to use them. :-(

31 Jan, 2010


wow the mind boggles balcony,i feel a migraine coming on lol :o))

31 Jan, 2010


I know what you mean Jo I do not believe in tinkering with my computer, my next door neighbour takes his apart all the time, (he is 83!!!) he got me interested in them in the first place, Mac's are not made to be taken apart, they would not make any money if they could be tinkered
All the best Balcony...

31 Jan, 2010


my son is always tinkering with his ~upgrading and things but i wouldnt let him mess with my laptop,i agree with you about not making money,83 he does ok then doesnt he, brilliant....

1 Feb, 2010


Yes he does at the moment he is running Windows &. Linux and Vista,all on the same PC amazing!!! he and I have lots of chat about all the latest techie stuff, my hubby is not interested in computers.

1 Feb, 2010

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