We’re on the road exploring for a few days, splashing out on some hotels. Francine has come up with a 4-day itinerary and our first overnight stop is Cuenca, where there are some famous so-called “hanging houses”. Before checking in for the night, though, our first stop en route was the nearby Ciudad Encantada [Enchanted City].
After a journey of 5 hours culminating in winding our way up about 30kms of mountain road – a better mountain road than most of our main roads, it must be said – we arrived at the entrance car park which appeared to be quite busy. Being 1:00 PM, as well as being thirsty, our worms were biting so we repaired initially to the bar beside the car park for beer and calamares. Their idea of a ración [portion] of calamares was just that, fried calamari rings; no adornment, no mayonnaise, from which it certainly would have benefitted. OK, though. Thirst and worms sated.
Our neighbours had told us about this place. They reported having seen loads of butterflies so I mounted my 300mm wildlife lens leaving Francine to deal with the landscapes. We crossed the road to pay our 5€ entrance fees.
OK, so just what is Ciudad Encantada [Enchanted City]? Well, according to the information boards it is a karst landscape. From what I can make out, as someone disinterested in geology, this involves the gradual dissolution by water of soluble rocks such as limestone. In the case of Ciudad Encantada, this process has resulted in several “whimsical shapes”. [Not my words; I don’t think I do whimsy.] We began our wander.
At this point, I’ll congratulate the organizers on their decision to make the circuit a one way walk. The main advantage of this is that, though there were many cars in car park, along with a few coaches, all having disgorged many people, since everyone is made to walk in the same direction, the place never felt crowded. Had it been a free for all, I suspect it might have been a different matter.
Naturally, the various formations have been given names. Some of the names are obvious enough and translate well into English, whilst others stretch the imagination a little. “What were they smoking when they named that?”, kind of thing. The most impressive shape in my view is at the beginning of the route, Tormo Alta, and is the one that troubles translation: just what a “High Tormo” might be, I know not. Neither does my dictionary.
There were a few butterflies but just a few and those that I spotted kept flying through. Mind you, we were earlier in the year and there really wasn’t a great deal in the way of nectar to encourage them to stop. Having said that, I did amuse myself snagging a few plants, including this delightful little Angel’s Tears (Narcissus triandrus), which required a little dedication to snap.
Francine snapped away at the various formations around the circuit. She was also very happy to find a few examples of Early Purple Orchid lurking about. In the mountains and with some floral and butterfly interest – I did spot two Cleopatras (Gonepteryx cleopatra) fly through – It is a very pleasant walk no matter what one makes of the named rock formations. Here’s three of the formations that seem clear enough: Los Barcos [The Ships], La Cara Del Hombre [The Man’s Face] and Los Osos [The Bears].
Ciudad Encantada was definitely worth a visit.