Cuenca & Almagro Cultural Tour : La Mancha in its Paradors
9th – 15th October 2018
Image : Hanging Houses of Cuenca
It is far too long since we spent time in one of our very favourite locations – the great city of Cuenca. And even longer since we visited our friends in the lovely medieval town of Almagro, whose main square was recently named ‘prettiest in Spain’.
This tour combines the two towns and everything in between. Majestic landscapes, exquisite historic towns and villages, one of Europe’s most important wetlands nature reserves – not to mention Don Quixote’s famous windmills (for we are in the land of the Man from La Mancha) and the oldest functioning theatre in the country.
DAY 1 : Flying to Madrid, we make our way to the ‘outrageously picturesque’ city of Cuenca. Set on an amazing gorge and enjoying stunning views, the whole town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We sleep three nights in a Parador located in a 16th-century monastery which looks out on to the most spectacular views of the medieval city, including the famous Hanging Houses.
DAYS 2 & 3 : As well as being one of the most beautiful, Cuenca is also one of the most varied and interesting cities in Spain. Its medieval quarter is UNESCO-listed and is presided over by a fascinating cathedral. Built in the Anglo-Norman style, the church sits among the hanging houses built into the very fabric of the gorge and contains a stunning set of contemporary stained glass by the artists who have made Cuenca their home.Indeed, it is these artists who give the city its extraordinary appeal. Cuenca is the capital of contemporary art. It boasts the National Museum of Abstract Art, located in the most famous of the Hanging Houses and various other spaces dedicated to the fine artists who have worked and lived in the city since the late 1950’s.
DAY 4 : Leaving Cuenca, our first destination is an example of art created by the hand of nature. ‘The Enchanted City’ is an astonishing natural sculpture park. From there we cross La Mancha, pausing in the magnificent castle of Belmonte which was the memorable backdrop for much of the film of ‘El Cid’.
DAY 5 & 6 : Almagro is a lovely town. At its heart is the 17th-century Franciscan monastery, now converted into one of the most idyllic of Paradors. With rooms grouped around the Renaissance cloister, it is a quintessential example of the architecture of the ruling classes from the era when Spain ruled the known world. From Almagro, La Mancha opens up in all directions. We shall explore the sites associated with Spain’s (and perhaps the world’s) most famous literary hero. Don Quixote was ‘born’ in La Mancha, and we can still visit the places associated with his adventures – including, of course, the unforgettable windmills. We shall also visit the 16th-century theatre which still operates a full timetable of dramatic events and the Tablas de Daimiel – a National Park and a wetlands nature reserve of international standing.
DAY 7 : We drive back to Madrid for our return flight.
Tour dates : 9th – 15th October 2018
Number of days : 7
Price : £2275 (Prices are per person based on 2 sharing a twin or double room).
Single supplement : £225
Fully inclusive : Flights, transfers, accommodation and meals are all included.
Number in party : 12 – 16