We Visit The Cathedral Of Cuenca, A Unique Building

Cuenca is one of the most peculiar Gothic cathedrals in Spain. A cathedral with a history and unique characteristics that we are going to know.
We visit the cathedral of Cuenca, a unique building

Cuenca Cathedral is one of the most impressive buildings in the city. And not only that, but it is also the oldest, since it was the first to be built after the Christian conquest of Cuenca. But since then, the temple has been renovated to what it is today, an architectural work that fuses the art of different times.

Something about the history of the cathedral of Cuenca

Cuenca cathedral facade
Facade – Carlos Octavio Uranga / Flickr.com

Before describing what awaits you outside and inside the Cathedral of Cuenca, we are going to tell you a few facts about its history, so that you can enjoy your visit much more.

As we have already said, after the Reconquest, at the end of the 12th century, its construction began. And for this they resorted to the site where the main mosque of the city was, something very common in many other Spanish cities, from Seville to Zaragoza.

And to build it, French stonemasons were called in, hence its particular Norman Gothic style. However, in the 15th and later centuries, continuous modifications were made. It also suffered fires and collapses, such as that of its towers, hence the current façade is actually from the 20th century.

The origins of the cathedral

Interior of the cathedral of Cuenca
Interior of the cathedral – santiago lopez-pastor / Flickr.com

From what has been said so far, it can be said that a visit to the Cathedral of Cuenca is something like taking a walk through the history of art. And it is that its beginnings were as a Gothic temple, one of the first in Spain.

Such originality was due to Queen Eleanor de Plantagenet, wife of Alfonso VIII, conqueror of the city. She was the one who brought in the French stonemasons who gave it that aspect of Norman Gothic architecture that can still be seen in certain elements of the temple.

The exterior of the cathedral of Cuenca

Facade of the Cathedral of Cuenca
Facade – FRANCIS RAHER / Flickr.com

Where these Norman nuances are least noticeable is precisely outside the cathedral. And it is that this was profoundly modified in the 15th and 16th centuries. It was then that many details of the Plateresque style were added to it.

And later a baroque façade was made, of which nothing remains today. The collapse of a tower in 1902 caused it to be completely rebuilt. That is why it has that peculiar neo-Gothic aspect, and a certain air that the entire project was not finished as planned.

In short, it is worth taking a walk outside the Cathedral of Cuenca, which, by the way, is dedicated to Santa María and San Julián. And above all, it is a reference point to be located in the historic center of the city, since it is one step away from attractions such as the Hanging Houses, the Espiscopal Palace or the Town Hall, which is in the same square.

The interior of the cathedral

Main Sacristy of the Cathedral of Cuenca
Main Sacristy – Carlos Sánchez / Flickr.com

As is usual in many other Spanish temples, it is necessary to pay a ticket to visit the historic place. Although it is also true that, in the case of the Cathedral of Cuenca, paying a ticket and renting an audio guide can be interesting to make the visit more satisfactory and instructive.

To begin with, because that way we will be able to see one of the few examples in Spanish cathedrals that have a raised clerestory inside. A memory of the most emblematic of the primitive construction of the Normans.

But there are more interesting things inside, where different chapels full of liturgical and artistic objects take place. Although if we have to mention specific spaces, we would have to talk about the Chapel of the Assumption, with works by Mariano Benlliure.

Also noteworthy is the Altar del Transparente, dedicated to San Julián. This is the work of one of the great artists of the 18th century in Spain, Ventura Rodríguez, whose other creations can be seen in the Royal Palace in Madrid or in the Basilica del Pilar in Zaragoza.

So due to its long history, its unique elements and the presence of works by great artists, the truth is that it can be said with complete tranquility that a visit to the Cathedral of Cuenca is one of the most recommended in this beautiful city of Castilla-La Mancha.

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