Cuenca, city (1990 pop. 43,209), capital of Cuenca prov., E central Spain, in Castile–La Mancha, at the confluence of the Huécar and Júcar rivers, c.3,000 ft (910 m) above sea level. This historic town retains its medieval character in the narrow streets, clustered houses, and bridges; the modern, industrial section (timber trade, furniture, pottery, paper, leather) extends onto the Huécar plain. The city is known for the spectacular sight of its houses projected above the abyss of the Huécar river. It was taken (1177) from the Moors by Alfonso VIII of Castile. Cuenca was badly damaged in the Peninsular War and the Second Carlist War (see Carlists). It has a notable Gothic cathedral (begun 12th cent.) and museums of abstract art, natural history, and science. Nearby is the Ciudad Encantada [enchanted city], a fantastic labyrinth of eroded rocks.

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