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The beautiful interiors of the Cuenca Cathedral are its best-kept secret. In this post, I will share more details from my visit to the first Gothic cathedral of Spain which took place during my recent Cuenca Road Trip.

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Blog Series for Art Lovers

This post is a part of my Blog Series Art Lovers, where I tell you more about all the artsy corners spotted on the go. While sharing tips and guides, I can’t always highlight every single detail I love about a new place. So, this Blog Series serves as a creative outlet for visually inspiring locations ( that I often want to refresh in my memory for myself).

In my recent article about Spain Coffee Table Books, I have already confessed that I deeply believe our eye should constantly travel to keep that wanderlust fueling… Reading about beautiful architecture, museums, and street art every week is what motivates me to plan new getaways. I hope that via this blog series, you will find new bucket list destinations to embrace your inner art lover.

Traveling to Cuenca

Many of you will know that this December we enjoyed a family getaway across the Cuenca region in Central Spain, and I honestly wanted to share more details of the stunning Cuenca cathedral ever since.

While years ago I wrote a separate post about the most beautiful Spanish cathedrals, back then I had honestly gone for the most well-known ones. This time, visiting the majestic cathedral of Cuenca has proved once again that if I were to skip all the international travels and focus on the local trips in Spain – I would never run out of blog material for my Undiscovered Spain Blog Series. After all these expat years I have only scratched the surface when it comes to the Spanish hidden gems.

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My favorite ceiling of the Cuenca Cathedral
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Visiting the Cathedral of Cuenca

About Cuenca Cathedral

The Cuenca Cathedral is considered one of the top landmarks of the Castille La-Manca region and can be easily visited on the road from Madrid to Valencia.

The Spanish name of the Cuenca Cathedral is Catedral de Santa María y San Julián de Cuenca and its best-kept secrets are the majestic interiors and two El Greco paintings (exposed in its museum).

Back when I visited Cuenca for the first time (in 2016), I missed out on its cathedral myself – it just did not seem to have anything special from the first glimpse. But I could not be more wrong…

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The interiors of Cuenca Cathedral

The History of Cuenca Cathedral

The Famous Reconquista

The origins of the Cuenca Cathedral can be traced back to the 12th century. Like many Spanish churches and monasteries, it was built on the remains of the Arab mosque, right after the famous Reconquista. (you can check more details via my list of Spanish documentaries).

It almost seems like building grandiose places of a religious cult from mosques was the number one task for the Spanish kings (due to its symbolic meaning). Till the present day you may roam across the most hidden and abandoned corners of Spain, and every village will have a beautiful church. There might be nothing else around, but the church will be worth a visit.

We all know that the church as an institute has always been important in Spain, especially with the Catholic Kings and the famous Spanish Inquisition. The good news for art lovers is that so many unique architectural styles and artworks made it to our times thanks to being hidden and preserved by religious institutions for centuries.

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Inside the Cathedral of Cuenca
Inside the Cathedral of Cuenca
The collection icons of Anastasio Martinez Saez

Building the Cathedral of Cuenca

Offitially the Spanish King Alfonso VIII conquered the city from the Moors in 1177. His wife Leonor de Platagenet was of English-French descent. So, actually she was the one who brought avant-garde artists and architects that embraced the Gothic structure and French influences of the Cuenca Cathedral.

Many believe that the Cuenca Cathedral was the first Gothic Cathedral in Spain.

Its construction was completed in 1257, sixty-one years after it all started. Then in the 16th century, the exterior of the cathedral was almost completely renovated by the Renaissance architect Juan de Herrera.

In the 18th century, the façade and towers were renovated in Baroque style, and the new main altar was decorated with sculptures of Pasquale Bocciardo. In 1902 the Giraldo tower of the Cuenca Cathedral collapsed leaving four dead alongside significant damage to one of the sides. the façade. and the destruction of the stained glass windows. So, another restoration started in the 20th century following the original Gothic and neo-Gothic styles.

Many claim that this neo-Gothic reconstruction of the façade reminds of the French Reims Cathedral and Notre Dame. Additionally, the new stained glass windows were created by modernist architects Gerardo Rueda and Gustavo Torner, following the artsy tendencies of Barcelona, Reus, and Tortosa.

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El Arco de Jamete
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Cuenca Cathedral has some of the most beautiful ceilings in Spain
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The majestic doors inside the Cuenca Cathedral
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One of the EL Greco paintings at Museo Diocesano

Visiting the Cuenca Cathedral

What I also loved about visiting Cuenca Cathedral was that they offered audioguides for the kids. You should get a combined entrance (10,50 euros per person) to be able to go all the way up to the Tower of San Pedro and visit the nearest Museo Diocesano (which houses two El Greco paintings).

If you travel to Spain with kids, ask for a family entrance (19 euros for 2 adults and 1 kid; with a supplement of 3 euros per each child 8+). Children under 8 get a free entrance, but the family entrance was still cheaper for us than 2 regular ones.

You can get a glimpse of my visit to the Cathedral of Cuenca via this Tiktok video.

Have you ever visited the Cathedral of Cuenca? Would you like to?

visiting the Cathedral of Cuenca Spain

For more Spain travel tips and itineraries check my Pinterest boards Best of Spain and Spain Travel Collection.

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