Alcalá de Henares

Located just 30 kms from Madrid, Alcala de Henares welcomes us. Celtiberian city in origin, it was known in the Roman period as Complutum, where the word Complutense was given to its inhabitants. Declared a World Heritage Site in 1998, it surprises us with places like this, the Archbishop's Palace. Precisely within its walls in 1486, Christopher Columbus had his first audience with the Catholic Monarchs. Here was born their daughter Catherine of Aragon. The Monastery of St. Bernard opens its doors with a curious elliptical dome of immense beauty. Of particular interest are also the side oil paintings, perhaps the best preserved collection of paintings of Alcala, painted by Angelo Nardi, who over the years was to become court painter to Philip IV. The Regional Archaeological Museum contains the most important archaeological remains found in the Community of Madrid. A museum where, unlike many others, one can touch. We can get our hands on, for example the first flint tools of our ancestors.

In this beautiful city there is also the Europe's oldest functioning stage: The Comedy Corral de Alcala, which was built in 1601 by Francisco Sanchez.

If there is one character linked to this city, it is Miguel de Cervantes. The house where the famous writer was born takes us back to life in 1547.

A quintessential college town, Alcala rightly boasts of being the first model of a Renaissance university town, within whose walls studied Quevedo, Calderon and Lope de Vega, among many other illustrious people of the Golden Age.

The auditorium of the University hosts on the 23rd April each year the most important award for prestigious Spanish literature, the Cervantes Prize, awarded by the King and Queen of Spain. The heights of Alcalá also hold surprises! Here The views of the Tower of Santa Maria...

If we go back in time, Complutum reminds us of the Romanic splendour of this city, while the House of Hippolytus, in those days devoted to the leisuretime of the elite, decorated with mosaics like this showing an unlimited variety of Mediterranean fish. Truly an archaeological site suitable for all audiences, young and old.

So come on and enjoy, Alcala, City of Arts and Letters.