For the children’s birthdays, rather than the big presents and parties that they enjoyed in our past life, we now try to visit a new city/ place of interest.  For Princess D’s 9th birthday we visited Cuenca, near Madrid. We enjoyed a two night stay in the most charming boutique hotel located in one of the extraordinary ” Hanging Houses of Cuenca”.  More about this stay in a later post.


Part of our trip included a visit to Ciudad Encantada or The Enchanted City, Located in the heart of the Natural Park of the Cuenca mountains and surrounded by huge pines. The Enchanted City is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular places in the area, where you can meet and learn all about the wonder of  geological processes and admire astonishing and whimsical formations. In fact it is such an unusual and spectacular site Ciudad Encantada was declared a Site of Natural Interest in 1929. 

It dates back to 90 million years ago, when Enchanted City was part of the seabed of Thetis. The peaceful waters led to the deposition of salts, in particular,  calcium carbonate.

At the end of the Cretaceous period and as a result of the Alpine orogeny, the sea retreated and the remaining seabed, made up of limestone, was left exposed. Thousands of years of action of water, wind and ice have led to what we see today – extraordinary structures, some that are so clever and creative they look man – made. But these are just the work of mother nature. Today we are privileged to  see this amazing geological phenomenon, where both children and adults alike can enjoy a magical setting and let their imagination run wild. 

On arrival, after paying the very small entrance fee, you are given a sheet which lists all the different special rock formations to go and try to find. It describes each one individually and there’s a map showing where to find them. It’s like a giant treasure hunt! 

The tracks are well made and reasonably easy to navigate although not suitable for those of limited mobility. 

For the children it was a geography, science and history lesson all in one, and as a Home Educating family, this was a huge bonus. There are detailed descriptions at the site of each formation giving excellent information and trivia. The kids were so excited as the rock formations seemingly came to life as they approached them … what appeared to be just a large strange rock took the shape of a dog, an  elephant and even huge imposing ships!

The scenery is stunning, peaceful and enchanting all in one. We were even privileged enough to see eagles flying near us, wild and free as they should be. The whole family enjoyed our time at the Ciudad Encantada so much, the children haven’t stopped talking about it and are desperate to go back. 

At the end of the journey there’s a small and well equipped gift kiosk and toilet facilities, plus a restaurant over the road. 

If you are planning a trip, have a look at our post on the best family hotels in Madrid.