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29 September 2012 / leggypeggy

Behind closed doors in Cuenca


Looking down (toward the front door) into the tiled and glass-covered, foyer–courtyard

The woman in the tourist office in Cuenca told us to be sure to visit the National Museum at the far end of Calle Larga (Long Street).

It was a long street, so on the way we spent quite a while wandering along and exploring everything that looked interesting.

One ‘shop’ promised antiques and the sign said to ‘press the bell three times and wait’. The foyer was fabulous and I approached to take a picture. We didn’t plan to ring the bell, as antiques are usually just other people’s junk.

But a young woman at the top of the stairs spotted us and buzzed us in. A beautifully dressed, frail, older woman joined her and motioned to us to come up the stairs. In fractured English, she said her house was a museum (no name was posted and it’s not on the museum register). It was $2 a person to visit.


Upstairs in the foyer

This glass-covered, foyer–courtyard was so intriguing that we coughed up and let Her Ancientness explain the house and its contents in a sort of Spanglish that we could just make out. The younger woman, most likely a paid carer or relative, held the arm of our guide as we went from room to room.

This dresser is from Germany, this china is from France, these vases are from Vienna, the house is 190 years old, you can’t go in the bathroom because the ceiling is falling, the wallpaper is gilt, these pictures are of my ancestors. The house had belonged to her great, great grandfather. And on and on and on. I was spellbound.

It was okay to take pictures everywhere except the sitting room (where the gilt wallpaper is). The ceilings (those not falling down) were amazing. The pressed tin walls were beautiful and numerous. The paintwork was intricate. The view across the river and to the mountains beyond was spectacular, even if the windows needed a good wash.

Ornate ceiling

Ornate pressed tin ceiling

Suddenly the time was up, and she led us back to the first room where it took about 15 minutes for her to rummage through her bag to find the $6 change for our $10. I suspect the admission serves as her retirement pension.

It really was a house of antiques and totally worth seeing. It is one of those places that will live in my mind’s eye. I wonder if it will ever make it to the list of genuine museums? I’ve included too many photos, but the house is too interesting not to share in the extreme.

Later in the afternoon, after we’d seen the main museum and as we strolled alongside the river, we looked up and saw the house from the back. It sits high on the hill and looks completely seedy. Makes you wonder what other gems might be in the dwellings along side.

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  1. Mike / Oct 31 2012 3:12 am

    Dear John and Peggy…I’ve just ‘discovered’ your interesting and inspiring blog. I came across it in my regular trawling of the web for any worthwhile snippets of useful information for our up and coming trip from Stockholm to Oz. We shall be traveling in our Toyota Land Cruiser which has been expensively modified for the epic trip next year. Deciding on the ‘best’ route proved to be the most difficult part of the process but we finally do have a route planned based on safety, security and whatever the political situation is in any given country on route. But I still get a great deal from reading other adventurers experiences, particularly Nessie’s Adventures and Land Rover Adventure. I’ve signed up to your blog so I’ll be reading your up-dates, in the meantime I shall read about the ‘stans’, we have just two to get through before China, then Nepal and India.

    Good luck


    • leggypeggy / Nov 1 2012 6:38 am

      Hi Mike
      Thanks so much for dropping in. Feel free to ask questions. To be honest, I have lots more to write about the UK to OZ trip, as well as the African overland. I’m sort of up-to-date on South America. I know people have been having trouble getting into Tibet now, from the Chinese side. Anyway, delighted to have you along for the ride, and looking forward to hearing more about your travels too.


  2. Brian Lageose / Aug 22 2016 1:53 pm

    What a fascinating, random discovery!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Steven / Sep 12 2017 3:12 pm

    I too met this lady and was able to look through her museum. I was even able to purchase a small incan style clay lizard. really neat place, but it appears much better lit then when I was there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 12 2017 3:22 pm

      Thanks for stopping by here too. We were so glad we went in to have a look at this house. We were there on a really sunny day, so maybe that makes the difference in light.


      • Steven / Sep 12 2017 3:26 pm

        That may be. I was also there back in 2011, and the house seemed much more cluttered then. i am glad to see it looking like I am sure it did in its former glory.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Sep 16 2017 12:44 pm

        I imagine it is a work in progress.


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