When visiting Spain on vacation, there are a multitude of fascinating hiking trails available throughout the country, but some of the most unusual and beautiful trails and landscapes can be found in the province of Cuenca in central Spain. Some of these landscapes, however, are not completely natural, as in the case of the “Ruta de las Caras” or Route of the Faces, located next to the dam at Buendía.
This hiking path is unlike any other in the world. Along the path, sculpted into the rock itself and dotted throughout the landscape, is a collection of 18 bas-reliefs or carved faces, the creation of several artists, working in combination. Unlike a walk through a stuffy art gallery or museum, this work is displayed perfectly in the fresh air and surrounding scenery.
Carved into the natural sandstone, each face is unique, and in size they range from a mere one foot to a full eight feet in height. Every sculpture has a either a religious or a mystical meaning behind it and the artists were apparently inspired by Pharaonic Egypt and the cultures of the pre-Columbian age.
The video below shows a photographic tour of the various sculptures and their surroundings and a photo of one of the faces is included at the top of this article.
Next stop on a vacation in Cuenca Province, Spain is a series of fascinating hiking trails, up in the mountains of the “Serrania de Cuenca” natural park.
More natural in nature, so to speak, than the first suggestion, “Los Callejones de Las Majadas” or The Alleys of Stone, are a series of curious shapes which form bridges, monoliths and arches. These were formed by erosion of the cretaceous limestone of the area, caused by the action of water and ice, the wind and variations in temperature over the years.
The park is located three miles away from the village of Las Majadas and is a popular destination for both hikers and more gentle walkers.
There are two differing routes to take. The longest is for more experienced hikers and the shorter route is marked clearly to ensure the comfort of visitors and to prevent them getting lost in the winding and confusing passages through the amazing rock shapes.
Wildlife can be seen while walking in the area, including deer and wild boar, and for bird enthusiasts eagles and other raptors can regularly be spotted, as well as vultures.
One fascinating anecdote about the area is that these Alleys of Stone were chosen for scenes in the James Bond movie, “The World is Not Enough” filmed back in 1999 with Pierce Brosnan playing 007.
The video below takes a tour through the amazing shapes in the area and it can be seen that some areas are easy to walk, and others a bit harder to traverse.
The next stop is also up in the “Serrania de Cuenca”, and involves the lovely small town of Uña, located just 22 miles from the city of Cuenca itself. What makes this little town so special is partly the beautiful mountainous landscapes surrounding it, but also the town nestles between Lake Uña and the River Júcar, offering even more lovely scenery.
While the town itself is small, with only around 138 residents, it is a welcoming place with cafes, restaurants and a few shops available for visitors.
The turquoise water of the lake can be viewed from the town, and since 1988, this area is a wildlife refuge where wild boar and deer can be regularly seen as well as birds in the form of storks, ducks and vultures.
Several popular hiking paths are available to visitors including the “Escalerón La Raya” route, a five mile hike up into the mountains. While heavy going at some points, the surrounding views make it all worthwhile and hikers often see vultures swooping over their heads as they pass.
The following video was produced by Casa el Escalerón in Uña and gives a beautiful tour of what is on offer in the area:
All these areas of Cuenca province offer a range of comfortable and traditional rural accommodation, but due to their close proximity to the provincial town of Cuenca, it is recommended to stay in that equally fascinating city. With so many fascinating hiking trails in the immediate vicinity of Cuenca province, it is best to consolidate and stay in one place on a vacation in Spain and venture out for day trips to all the available attractions.
By Anne Sewell