PROVINCIA DE CUENCA – Imagine: you are walking through a forest and suddenly you come across enormous sculptures, carved straight out of rocks. This is not a fairy tale, but reality in the province of Cuenca, Spain.
The path is known as ‘La Ruta de las Caras’ (Route of the Faces). It is one of the most unique hiking trails in the country. The route stretches for two kilometres along the banks of the Buendía Reservoir and is a special example of how art and nature can flow together. Furthermore, the beautiful sculptures also give an extra dimension to the walk for children.
The origins of this route date back to 1992. It was Eulogio Reguillo, a facade restorer, and Jorge Juan Maldonado, a ceramist, who started carving statues from the sandstone. The sculptures are inspired by a range of motifs, from Indian gods and Buddha figures to Templar crosses and even a portrait of Beethoven.
Highlights along the route
The walk, which takes about an hour, contains 18 statues, ranging in size from 70 cm to four metres. Some of the most notable images are Krishna and Maitreya. These took eight years to complete due to the hardness of the rock where they were carved. Another special image is El Chaman, which focuses on the Calavera De Muerte, another image from which you have a good overview of the surroundings.
Access to the Ruta de las Caras is free. The path is open all day and suitable for all ages. Although there are plenty of parking spaces, during busy periods it is wise to arrive early. The travel time from Cuenca or Guadalajara to the car park is approximately 1 hour and 5 minutes.
When you have finished walking you can visit the village of Buendía, a tourist gem in the northwestern corner of the province of Cuenca. The city map is still medieval and you can admire the remains of the old city walls. The reservoir of the same name is surrounded by extensive pine forests. From the dam of this reservoir, the Guadiela River flows through a spectacular gorge, allowing you to enjoy breathtaking views. The name of the village says it all: it states you will have a good day there!