Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A Trip to Cuenca, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Tuesday, 18 October, 2016:

Rain was predicted for the next few days so I took advantage of our last dry morning to take the Land Rover and, well, rove the Spanish countryside to the exotic land of Cervantes' hero Don Quixote.

Yes, I was off to the area of Spain known as Castilla-La Mancha!

I was up early as I had a 70 mile trek North of La Casa Grande scheduled as my goal was to see the hilltop city of Cuenca which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

I would definitely not be disappointed.

View from atop Cuenca of the
Rio Huécar Gorge 

View from atop Cuenca of the
Rio Júcar Gorge

Cuenca was originally built by the Moors in 714 A.D. as a defensive position at the heart of the Caliphate of Cordoba.

Cuenca is located on a high limestone spur surrounded by the 15-story gorges created over the centuries by the Rio Júcar and Rio Huécar which converge there.

The Moors assumed that their fortifications in Cuenca could command every strategic pass between the mountains and the plains of La Mancha.

For over 400 years, the Moorish thinking was spot on until that fateful day in 1177 A.D. when King Alfonso VIII of Castilla led his troops up the hill to vanquish the Moors.

Little remains today of the Moorish fortifications. Once taken, the Christians immediately started building a new city based on Gothic and Renaissance architecture which was all the rage in medieval times.

Cuenca filled up with convents and monasteries as this incredible site was deemed a great geographic spot to contemplate.

During and after the Spanish Civil War, 1936-39, the city suffered a draining loss of population. Then, in the 1950s, artists discovered that Cuenca was a fine spot to enjoy the passion for life as well as contemplate about life. Thus Cuenca was re-born as an art colony.

Cuenca's signature feature are its Casas Colgadas or Hanging Houses which literally, in part, hang off the 15-story cliffs!

Across from a Music School

The drive to Cuenca was smooth sailing on a well signed Spanish Autovia. Hector Manzano's Tomtom GPS certainly helped too.

Gracias otra vez Hector!

Cuenca is colorful

My first old church of the day

 I said that Cuenca was
now quite artsy

I have got to come back
when they are open!

Another Moor about to die
for the love of the Trinity

 A view of the Rio Júcar Gorge

 It's an OLD city

Santiago Matamoros
I believe

I love old doors and
rich earth tones

St. Peter Senior Citizens Center

I really should have dropped in but when I took a look inside, there were just lots of old people sitting around.

Getting Hungry

 First peek of Cuenca's Cathedral

The Cathedral has an
Anglo-Norman influence

And for good reason, King Alfonso VIII was married to Eleanor Plantagenet, the daughter of England's Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Eleanor was homesick so Alfonso VIII decided to please her by commissioning this Cathedral to be made by Norman masons in the style of the Cathedral in Chartres. 

 Great details on the Cathedral

Front of the Cuenca Cathedral

Front of a Cuenca Native

Plaza Mayor as viewed from
the Cathedral's steps

Art Colony

Pottery is good

Mail Box

I placed a post card for Laurie in its mouth.

It didn't bite.

 Another colorful Cuenca Street

A different view of Plaza Mayor

It was time to visit the Cathedral.

Great lighting

 Spector of Death

Cathedrals in Europe
love skulls

 In need of a facial

Saintly Face 

Ancient Mural

Alfonso VII's Crest?

 Dead Bishops EVERYWHERE!

Why is this man smiling?

How did the Los Angeles Angels
of Anaheim do this year?

 Nice Grillwork

 A Knight's Tomb

Lots of Tapestries in the Cathedral

Ceiling Art

Modest side chapel

That reminds me, the
Washington Huskies are on a roll


 Colorful Vaulting

 View of the Main Altar

The Cathedral was a good one with lots of different artistic styles in its many chapels, nooks and crannies.

Now it was time to find those Hanging Houses.

King Alfonso VIII himself

What'a he carrying?
A feather duster?

Puente de San Pablo

It is 60 meters/197 feet to the bottom of the gorge and a bit rickety to boot, but it offers good views of the Casas Colgadas or Hanging Houses.

It had to be done.

 Cuenca's main city to the right

 14th Century Casas Colgadas
to the left

There they are,
let's take a closer look

Las Casas Colgadas

A tired looking fountain

Another Catholic Church paying
honor to the memory of
Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera

He was the leader of the ultra-right wing Falange Movement in the 1930s. He was executed by the Republican Forces in the early days of the Spanish Civil War.

 Symbol of the Falange Movement

 Old Window Grill

Locals hanging out on the
Cathedral steps at lunchtime

 A Bishop surveying the
Plaza Mayor

Tribute to a Poet

I liked it better than the one to Primo de Rivera.

 Farewell Cuenca

I will definitely bring Laurie back here next month for, as Jacob calls it, a sleepover.

If it's Tuesday night, it must be time for a . . .

. . . Guadalajara Sting practice!

Really awesome game jersey design if you ask me.

 Down Blocking Drill

Too high.

 Bull on the Line
Pass Blocking Drill

We still can't go full bore due to insurance issues.

Time for a little nine-man
American football scrimmage

A little tough with only 15 Stings at practice but we adapted.

Individually, the four linemen that I worked with, Borja, Carlos, David and Rugby (no first name, just my nickname por favor), were coachable and gave great effort.

What more can a coach ask for?


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