The mountainous, craggy countryside around CUENCA is as dramatic as any in Spain. The city, the capital of a sparsely populated province, is an extraordinary looking place, enclosed on three sides by the deep gorges of the Huécar and Júcar rivers, with balconied houses hanging over the cliff top – the finest of them tastefully converted into a wonderful museum of abstract art. No surprise, then, that this is a popular weekend outing from Madrid; to get the most from a visit, try to come on a weekday, and stay overnight; with this much time, you can make the short trip to see the bizarre limestone formations of the Ciudad Encantada and visit the picturesque source of the Río Cuervo.

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