Route of the Faces: an open-air museum

Visiting the province of Cuenca is a beautiful getaway thanks to its many attractions. Known for its villages and architecture, it also has an amazing natural environment. The Route of the Faces, located a short distance from Madrid and Guadalajara, is one of the most peculiar hiking activities in the province.

Despite its proximity to the capital, it is one of those places of the unknown Spain, a hidden gem worth discovering. The area is of special interest not only for being in the middle of nature, but also for the 18 sculptures that are found along the circular route. A magical place full of mysticism and symbolism.

Origin of the sculptures of the Route of the Faces

The Face of Death

The Face of Death, the most popular sculpture of the route. | Shutterstock

The natural environment of the area is spectacular, but what has made it a most peculiar route are its 18 sculptures carved in sandstone. All of them with different themes and sizes ranging from 30 cm to six meters high.

The origin of these sculptures began in 1992, when artists Eulogio Reguillo and Jorge Maldonado took advantage of the malleable characteristics of the sandstone in the area to sculpt them. The first finished work, known as La Monja (The Nun), was completed that same year. In 2007 the last sculpture was made, up to the 18 that exist today, made by new artists who joined the project. All of them are divided into three groups. Some of them have informative signs with information about the work, such as the date or the author.

Some are inspired by pre-Columbian cultures, others have Asian symbolism, geometric symbols, and some are even associated with religion or death. The technique known as ‘archaic smile’ stands out, used in many of the sculptures and inspired by ancient Greece.

Tour of the Route of the faces of Buendía

La Monja

This sculpture is known as La Monja (The Nun). | Shutterstock

There are many places in Spain that surprise everyone who visits them, one of them is this Route of the Faces. Just 4 kilometers from the town of Buendía, bordering Guadalajara, is a magical natural environment that can be discovered in a simple way thanks to a circular path.

When arriving at Buendía, it is necessary to move to the main square and turn at a small traffic circle to take the direction to the north. It is necessary to reach a detour flanked by lampposts in the first part. It is enough to follow the indicative signs that lead to the route, at the entrance of which there is an information point for visitors. The Route of the Faces has a low difficulty, suitable for children. It has an average duration of one hour round trip, ideal for families and capable of surprising both children and adults.

At the beginning of the route there is an area to park the car. It is only necessary to cross the picnic area to begin to see the famous sculptures of the place. A path marked by sandstone rocks and pine forests, located near the Buendía Reservoir. The route has a mystical and mysterious touch thanks to the sculptures. In fact, one of the most popular sculptures is El Chermary, a fabled character that is a sleeping giant with more than two meters high.

The trail also features a guardian of the forest, the sculpture of El Chamán, a figure rooted in nature. The Indian Elf represents the energies of the forest. These sculptures are an example of the importance of mythology in the place. The sculpture of Krishna stands out for its large size, with four meters high and three meters wide. It is one of the most worshipped Hindu deities and its presence in Cuenca has a reason: its author Eulogio was fascinated by this type of work during his travels to India.


Sculpture dedicated to Beethoven. | Shutterstock

It is worth mentioning some of the smaller ones, which measure up to 30 centimeters. Such as the aforementioned The Indian Elf and Paleto. It also highlights the Templar Cross, because of the importance of the Templars in the peninsula, or Beethoven, as a tribute to the musician, located in the area where the best acoustics of the sounds of the forest.

But, undoubtedly, the master jewel of the tour is the Face of Death, a large skull with the view of the sunrise, a metaphor for life and death. The privileged views of the Buendía Swamp make it one of the favorites. As a curiosity, according to the artists, in the surroundings of the sculpture they found the skeletal remains of a woman that served as inspiration for the work.

Beyond the route of the faces of Buendía

Hermitage of the Helpless

Hermitage of the Helpless. | Shutterstock

The Route of the Faces is the main attraction of the area, but not the only one. The town of Buendía is one of those places where it seems that time has stopped. It has a certain medieval atmosphere thanks to the archaeological remains that can still be seen, such as its ancient wall. It is worth mentioning the church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción or the Pósito belonging to the 11th century, built in masonry and which houses the Carro Museum (Carriage Museum). Also the arcaded Plaza Mayor, where the Town Hall and the Apothecary Museum are located. Special mention for the old caves-wineries.

In addition, the Buendía Reservoir stands out, where it is possible to enjoy a relaxing time in its picnic areas. Even visit his hermitage of the Helpless or access to a small cove where there are two hidden faces that are not official tour. Also, a few kilometers from the town is Cuenca, just an hour’s drive away. Cuenca was declared a World Heritage City by UNESCO thanks to its peculiar architecture, located between colorful landscapes and sunflower fields.

The Route of the Faces of Buendía is one of the most mysterious and enigmatic routes to the nature of the Iberian Peninsula. A hidden gem located a short distance from Madrid and a most original rural getaway.

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