Alcalá de Henares
Alcalá de Henares is a city located in the Autonomous Community of Madrid, 30 km northeast of the city of Madrid. It is an UNESCO World Heritage Site
Several trains run from Madrid to Alcalá at Atocha Station, Nuevos Ministerios and Chamartín Station (Lines C1,C2,C7).
Buses leave from Madrid to Alcalá at Avenida de América (Lines 223, 227, 229). There is also a night service (Line N202).
There now (Feb 2013) a direct bus from T1 and T2 at Airport Mardid Barajas (Interurbano Line 824), 3.60 €.
Alcalá has a bus service that costs 1.30 euro per ride. The historic center is compact and can be explored on foot.
La Universidad de Alcalá: The university was founded in 1499 by Cardenal Cisneros and was the center of academic excellence in Spain, particularly in the 16th and 17th centuries. The famous facade is an excellent example of the estilo plateresco (plateresque style). The University is also the site where the Cervantes Literary Prize is presented by the King annually on April 23.
El Museo Casa Natal de Cervantes: See the house where the famous author of El Ingenioso Hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha was born and lived his early days. The museum recreates life in 16th century Spain and includes a room of manuscripts from around the world.
La Catedral-Magistral: One of only two magisterial cathedrals in Europe. Inside one can visit la Cripta de los Santos Niños, the tomb of persecuted Catholic children.
Corral de Comedias. Located in the main square (Plaza Cervantes) is one of the oldest "Corral de Comedias" (kind of theatre ) in Europe.
House of Hyppolytus. Is nowadays one of the better fitted-out Roman archaeological complexes in the Madrid area. Interpreted so far as the schola of a collegium iuvenum was built at the end of the 3rd century or beginnings of the 4th century A.D. It is famous for its well preserved mosaics.
Complutum. Archaeological rests of the Roman Alcalá which was called Complutum
Archbishop's Palace. Built by Toledo's prelates as a fortress-castle along centuries fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. It was transformed into a Palace by Archbishops in sixteenth century. Catalina de Aragón and Emperor Ferdinand from Germany were born here, John I of Castille died in the same place, and it took place the first interview between Elizabeth the Catholic and Cristopher Columbus, six years before America's discovery.
House of the Interview. A Franciscan convent founded in sixteenth century by Cardinal Cisneros to lodge the nuns of the order. Currently is home of the House of the Interview, exhibition room that owes its name to the memory of the interview that took place in the Archbishop's palace between Queen Elizabeth The Catholic and Cristopher Columbus.
Archaeological Museum . Is the Archaeological Museum from the Comunidad de Madrid, the Old Madre de Dios monastery-college (XVII c.). After its restoration has been adapted to become the Archaeological Museum: a very relevant collection of Roman Art.
Hospital Our Lady of the Mercy or Antezana. Aristocratic house from fifteenth century that became Charity Hospital in 1483. It is considered to be the oldest private sanitary institution that has been working non stop since then in Europe.
Colegio de San Ildefonso. Beside the University is where the impressive Cardenal Cisneros's tomb is located.
Take a stroll around La Plaza de Cervantes, a great place for people-watching, and the center of the city's historic sector. The plaza is lined with many restaurants and shops.
Look up to the rooftops and you will see storks nesting high above.
Alcalá is not the place to find dozens of stores teeming with tourist goods. That being said, typical products of the region include ceramics and jewellery.
Your Spanish experience is not complete until you've had tapas, which are small appetizers served along with your drink.
Alcalá is known for its almendras garrapiñadas, a sugar-coated almond candy. You can get them at El Convento de San Clarisas de San Diego, a cloistered abbey where the nuns make the candies with nothing but "almonds, sugar and love."
At restaurants and taverns in Alcala it is possible to taste typical dishes that bring us memories from “El Quijote” passages. Garlic soup, migas (bread crumbs) with sausages and eggs, and a wide range of other dishes cooked with fresh vegetables from the fertile lowland of the Henares, plus the most tasteful lamb and astrid roasts.
Cervantes home town reproduces, at the doors of twenty first century, that cooking from “El Quijote” that reflects habits and usages from the Spanish Golden Century thanks to the Cervantes Gastronomy Days that are being organized by the City Hall and Fomentur since 1997 at the end of September; during these days main restaurants in Alcala make curious menus inspired in the great work by Cervantes that can be enjoyed at reasonable prices. Every year in February there is also another Gastronomy week.
A bus ride away is the excavation of the Roman village Complutum.
Alcalá is a half hour train ride away from Atocha, Madrid's main train station.