One of my most vivid memories of many weekend getaways from Madrid was the splendid, walled city of Cuenca. Cuenca with its hanging houses above the Jucar River gorge is an absolute gem of a town and definitely worth a stop on any Spanish vacation.

In fact, some of my most precious photo opportunities were along Cuenca’s narrow streets and its numerous houses daringly placed so close to the rocky edge that they seemed to be just floating over the gorge’s floor below. Despite my splendid memories from my visit to Cuenca, I wanted to ask a peer, Marina, who is a travel writer with more recent visits than I as well as a particular expertise in alternative lodging in Cuenca. Disfruta (Enjoy!). Adelante Marina (Go ahead Marina)!

When travelling around Spain, most visitors choose to stay in hostels, hotels, and rented accommodations. What many ignore is that many of the country’s ancient and historical buildings have been transformed into Paradores, allowing visitors to stay in castles, fortresses and monasteries.

Cuenca is one of the traditional towns where visitors can stay at a parador. The city’s parador used to be an ancient convent. The convent sits upon a gorge and has views towards the region. The chapel is now a café, and the rooms still have wooden beams and traditional decorations.

Cuenca is a city known for its Hanging Houses, the Casas Colgadas. These traditional houses were built over a a high ridge hanging over a gorge. In order to enjoy views of the Casas Colgadas visitors can cross over the San Pablo Bridge, a narrow bridge over a plummeting gorge.

The historical Old Town is another of the city’s attractions. There are several ancient churches and the Cathedral, which was built in a Gothic style. Visitors will be able to walk around the stone plazas, some of which have views towards the Jucar river and the valley. In the northern part of the city there is an observation deck with views towards the city. Cuenca has several museums, one of its main museums being the Museum of Abstract Art.

There is a walking tour around the city which leads to an ancient shrine, the Our Lady of Sorrow shrine. Walking past the shrine there is a set of narrow steps that lead to the San Miguel Church, where many events are organized. The Convent of the Carmelitas Desclazas is located next to the Cathedral.

The city’s Plaza Mayor is the main square. The Town Hall is located on this plaza, and is considered to be one of the buildings that has the most decorated façade. A short distance away from the main square visitors will find the ruins of an Arab fortress, with the Mangan Tower built over it.

A short ride away from the city visitors will find the Enchanted City. This place is located in a canyon where erosion and ice formed figures and rock formations. Many of these figures are similar to animals and people.

The region is known for its many vineyards. Visitors will be able to visit many vineyards and try several types of local wine. This part of Castille produces manchego cheese, a local type of cheese that is one of the country’s most popular tapas.

Another local specialty is roast lamb. The region’s typical dishes are based on local vegetables and game, and many bars and restaurants offer a menu del día, a three course menu which includes sopa de ajo garlic soup, lamb, and flan dessert accompanied by bread, water and wine.

**Guest post provided by Marina, travel writer for hotel and hostel bookings around the world including Spain.