Just two hours southeast of Madrid lies Cuenca, one of the most charming small towns you'll find anywhere on the Iberian peninsular. Located on a steep spur, above the confluence of two deep river gorges, Cuenca's magnificent geography is matched only by the architectural wonders contained within its medieval city walls. In fact, the entire town centre of Cuenca is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (and has been since 1996), and visitors to Spain who are looking for a romantic town to wander around in for a few days are strongly encouraged to give Cuenca a try.
Full of Moorish fortresses, Gothic cathedrals with 'unum ex septem' signs outside (if you pray while looking at one of them, you'll get five years' worth of forgiveness for your sins), rococo-style convents, museums and parks, the most endearing feature of Cuenca is in fact its 'hanging houses', residences with cantilevered balconies that overhang the deep river gorges below. The strange angularity of these buildings is said to have inspired the artistic movement known as Cubism. A wonderful place to ramble around for a couple of days, Cuenca is an ideal stop for those travelling to Barcelona from Madrid.