Cuenca, Spain

General Information

Regional secretariat

Administrative status

Provincial capital of Cuenca

Historic Walled Town of Cuenca

Registration Year


Historical function

Military, agricultural, manufacturing and religious

Location and site

In Castilla-La Mancha, southwest of Madrid, Cuenca stands on a 1000 m chalk ridge at the confluence of the Júcar and Huécar Rivers. Both the upper and lower towns are built on the steep slopes of this natural defence. Bridges connect the town with the outside world.

Urban morphology

Besides the contrasts between the upper and lower towns, Cuenca blends in magnificently with the surrounding landscape. Fitting themselves into narrow spaces and adapting to the topography, it is the buildings that give the town its distinct shape. The irregular street plan, dating back to Christian Medieval times, has kept some elements of its former Muslim identity, while still drawing together around the imposing Playa Mayor, the heart of the upper town.

Tall Medieval buildings characterize this townscape, dominated by the towers of religious institutions, hospital, and Señoriales Houses. In addition to the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque period buildings are vestiges of the Moorish era: the monumental gates and tightly packed houses, the gardens on the banks of the Huécar River, the town’s contours and its light effects. Jutting out over the chasm are the hanging houses, emphasizing the verticality of this picturesque town.

Registration criteria

(ii) and (v)

Historical reference

  • After the Moors conquered it, Cuenca was a Muslim fortress until Alphonse VIII reconquered it in 1177 and the episcopal seat was restored. The city expanded both in area and in population. Manufacturing activities (textiles) in Cuenca were of primary importance to the Castilian economy, and the upper town was developed.
  • In the sixteenth century, the rise of Cuenca was remarkable. Political and administrative centre of the first order, its architecture blossomed as manufacturing and commerce grew. The walled upper town and the more exposed lower town each evolved differently. The layout of Cuenca remained unchanged from this time on.
  • In the 17th century the manufacturing and animal breeding industries collapsed. Only the clergy remained. The many religious foundations that started to appear gradually came to characterize this urban landscape.
  • Economic collapse was followed by a slight recovery. In addition to the ubiquitous religious presence, districts began to specialize in particular activities. As the urban tissue was already dense, the town grew upwards. Decline and deterioration followed in the nineteenth century, only to be reversed at the beginning of the twentieth.




Sr. Darío Dolz Fernández

Ayuntamiento de Cuenca

Plaza Mayor 1
Cuenca, España

+ 34 969 17 61 11
[email protected]

Sra. Marta Segarra

Concejal de Turismo y cultura
Ayuntamiento de Cuenca

Plaza Mayor 1
Cuenca, España

34 969 241 051
[email protected]