October 31, 2020

Cuenca, the medieval spirit of a vanguard city | Culture


On board the Ford Puma, we chose the mode Trail of driving to face the 100 meters of ascent that separate the new city of Cuenca from its highest point, the Castle. We enter this aerial and stony decoration of Renaissance palaces, medieval convents, nineteenth-century civil buildings and even skyscrapers (what skyscrapers ?, now we will see) with the idea of ​​looking for its paradoxical avant-garde face.

Cuenca is the Spanish capital of abstract art, contained mostly in its Museum of Spanish Abstract Art opened in 1966 by artists Gustavo Torner and Fernando Zóbel, who contributed his collection of early wasp collection of non-figurative works. The catalog was expanded and today includes about thirty first-line authors such as Millares, Chillida, Tápies, Sempere, Canogar, Torner, Rueda, Zóbel or Saur.

The cathedral of Cuenca.


The cathedral of Cuenca.

The house where he is staying is the best example of the architecture of the Hanging Houses. Peeked into the sickle of Huécar, from its wooden balconies it encompasses very long views of the ravines in the first place, and then much further west towards one of the most extensive municipal terms in Spain.

On the steep Calle de los Canónigos, we leave the museum and the rocky square of the City of Ronda, always at the mercy of the winds and with access to the Museum of Cuenca and the Treasury Museum of the Cathedral of Cuenca, in the Episcopal Palace, to arrive in a few minutes to the best possible viewpoint for the Hanging Houses: the Parador de Cuenca. In its parking lot, always crowded because of its prodigious views, we tried one of the additives that make the life of the driver of the Ford Puma easier: the parking assistant. Its camera and its proximity sensors help us and encourage us visually and loudly to park in a small space, because it is worth it. The views are extended throughout the pit and finally we discover what are the skyscrapers of Cuenca: the odd houses of Alfonso VIII street, three or four heights on that road, but up to ten floors that go down to the shore from where We look at them.

The museum that inspired an ad

After getting the selfie The most sought after city on the pedestrian walkway of San Pablo, we visit the museum of contemporary art that contains the Torner Space, annexed to the Parador. The interior invites the visitor to attend the dialogue between the architectural tradition and the plastic exploration that defines the Basin today. The former late Gothic convent of the Dominicans, with its stylized restored moldings, coexists with 40 works by Gustavo Torner, half of them ceded by the Reina Sofía National Art Museum in Madrid.

On leaving, the vision of the Hanging Houses is again mixed with the geometric shapes of straight lines of Torner’s paintings. In 1930, the Ford brand chose precisely this point of view, that of Las Casas del Rey, from the other side, to promote its latest launch, the Lincoln model. His announcement contained an illustration showing the balconies, the sickle of Huécar, with the rocks and the deep pit, as a promise of adventure for the most thrown pilots of the time. A text by Julio Cejador ended it: “Cuenca. Looking from the plain, you can see it going up the slope to the steepest part of the castle, the houses looking like one another, some eleven stories, the last one at the height of other streets. ”

The streets always up and always escorted by palatial ashlars of Cuenca were then, as now, an ideal place to test the contrast with Ford’s futuristic lines. In the case of the Ford Puma, they are not limited only to their exterior appearance, but we find it in all the interior details. The most visible is the 12.3-inch digital instrument panel (depending on the finish), fully customizable that includes driver assistance technologies and satellite navigation notifications and also generates detailed and intuitive, bright, high-definition images and icons , easy to read and with little wear on the eyes.

With this guide, we return to the hunt for Cuenca abstract art, which is once again present at the Antonio Pérez Foundation, dedicated not only to historical abstraction, but also to other avant-garde works distributed by an ancient Carmelite convent, from serigraphs of the Chronicle team to paintings by Antonio Saura and works by young artists that are beginning.

Abstract art is lived in the streets

We have already traveled the three main spaces of avant-garde art and, on the way to the Paleontology Museum, with its cubic forms of cement and glass, we wonder if abstraction will be present in the city, outside the exhibition spaces.

For this search, Puma offers us again its different driving modes designed to get the most out of an urban destination that has nature in sight and one step away. The throttle response, the direction and the behavior of the gearshift are adjusted to the different driving styles with five different modes: the Trail (which we chose before) the Normal, the ECO, the Sport and the Slider. A light rain does not allow us to doubt which will be the most suitable to enter this city of firm of tiles, stairs and arches that end in viewpoints. Our choice is reflected in the instrument panel, which changes color depending on the mode selected.

Cuenca, the medieval spirit of a vanguard city



What we discover about the abstract art of Cuenca is that it overflows museums and spreads through streets and squares of the city. The most representative is the expensively rehabilitated Mangana square, home of the old Arab fortress, the iconic Mangana Tower, with its centennial clock, and a large abstract sculpture by Gustavo Torner that honors the Constitution. “Plural and unitary structure in equilibrium by contradictory tensions on a basis of great firmness,” he explained metaphorically at its inauguration 34 years ago. Like many corners of Cuenca (the castle or the surroundings of the Plaza de la Merced) it is also an extraordinary viewpoint to the sickles, the new city or the roofs of the historic center itself.

The city was thought around the Arab castle of Conca and was growing according to the needs of the successive neighbors, of the three cultures, Jewish, Muslim and Christian, who came to live together in its streets. Similarly, the new Ford Puma has a people-centered design in which everything is designed to adapt to the driver and make an urban getaway to history an experience as aesthetic as technologically inspiring.

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