Renowned for its centuries-old university, Alcala de Henares straddles the Henares River north-east of Madrid. It was originally established as the Roman settlement of “Complutum”, with a citadel later constructed by the Moors on the opposite bank. Today, the historical centre of Alcala de Henares is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Things to do in Alcalá de Henares
Occupying a collection of 16th-century buildings in the heart of Alcala de Henares is the University of Alcala, which has a rich history dating back to 1293. Don’t miss the Colegio Mayor de San Idelfonso, a designated site of Spanish Cultural Heritage. Of particular note is the Main Hall or Paraninfo, which is famed for its Mudejar coffered ceiling and tapestry-covered walls.
Housed within a former convent of La Madre de Dios is the Regional Archaeological Museum, which showcases findings from the Community of Madrid. In addition to the largest bear skull discovered in the Iberian Peninsula, its exhibits include a significant collection of Roman mosaics from the ancient city of “Complutum”.
The author of “Don Quixote”, Miguel de Cervantes, is celebrated at the Cervantes Birthplace Museum, which has been recreated as it would have appeared during his childhood in the 16th century. Wander through the family kitchen, dining space and surgeon’s office where Cervantes’ father once worked. Antique furnishings and paintings are on display, together with first editions of Cervantes’ literary achievements.
Getting around Alcalá de Henares
Alcala de Henares is around 30 minutes’ drive from the centre of Madrid and 20 minutes from Madrid–Barajas Airport, which has flights to destinations across the globe. Regular trains connect to the Alcala de Henares railway station and buses travel throughout the city. The centre of Alcala de Henares can easily be explored on foot.