Best Places To Travel In Alcalá de Henares

Best Places To Travel In Alcalá de Henares. This town near Madrid, birthplace of the illustrious Miguel de Cervantes, author of “Don Quixote”, and home to one of the most prestigious universities in Spain, has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Its rich monumental heritage, formed by churches, convents and university buildings, gives us a glimpse of life in Castilia during the Spanish Golden Age. Its historic quarter also has the “Hostería del Estudiante” Inn, which is part of the network of Paradores de Turismo. Walls with four hundred years of history make the perfect place to sample the best of the local gastronomy.

Casa de la Entrevista house

Best Places To Travel In Alcalá de Henares
Casa de la Entrevista house
This was the church of the old monastery of San Juan de la Penitencia , founded by Cardinal Cisneros in 1504. Its name ('the house of the interview') derives from the fact that this was where the first audience took place between Christopher Columbus and Queen Isabella 'la Católica', in the nearby archbishop's palace. It is now an exhibition hall belonging to the Town Hall.

Episcopal Palace of Alcalá de Henares

Best Places To Travel In Alcalá de Henares
Episcopal Palace of Alcalá de Henares
The palace was the residence of the archbishops of Toledo from the 13th until the 19th century. In 1939 it was seriously damaged by fire, and not only a valuable artistic heritage but also the Central State Archive were lost to the flames. The façade we see today was designed by Alonso de Covarrubias in the 16th century. The site also has a tower built by Archbishop Pedro Tenorio, which recalls the building's former use as a defensive fortress.

Cathedral of Santos Justo y Pastor in Alcalá de Henares

Best Places To Travel In Alcalá de Henares
Cathedral of Santos Justo y Pastor in Alcalá de Henares
The church was built on the site where the children from Alcalá, Justo and Pastor, were said to have been martyred. The original structure was an old collegiate church which was rebuilt by Cardinal Cisneros. It has three naves and an ambulatory. The central nave is covered with cross vaults, and the side naves with tiercerons. The doorway on the main façade is in the flamboyant Gothic style, with a low arch and a tympanum decorated with the crests of the church and of Cisneros, and an image of San Ildefonso. The incorrupt body of San Diego of Alcalá is on the high altar.

Corral de Comedias theatre

Best Places To Travel In Alcalá de Henares
Corral de Comedias theatre
The Corral de Comedias theatre in Alcalá de Henares is one of the oldest in Spain. It still conserves the various architectural elements that are evidence of its long history as a venue for public performances.

It opened in 1602, and the features remaining from these early days include the cobbled courtyard, the tiered seats, the rooms and the space reserved for women known as the 'cazuela', or pan. In the 18th century it was transformed into a new classical coliseum when the courtyard was covered with a dome.

The 20th century saw the installation of a protective screen which continued in place until the 1970s. After its restoration it was reopened in 2003 and is today a theatre-museum offering a programme of productions run by the Teatro de La Abadía Foundation, in addition to guided tours.

La Imagen Carmelite Convent, Alcalá de Henares

Best Places To Travel In Alcalá de Henares
La Imagen Carmelite Convent, Alcalá de Henares
Founded in 1563 by the blessed Sister María de Jesús, under the patronage of Doña Leonor de Mascareñas, governess of Felipe II. The design of this Renaissance building's façade is attributed to Alonso de Covarrubias. The façade is decorated with grotesques, dragons and fantastic figures. In the pediment there is a vaulted niche with an image of the Immaculate Virgin, and underneath the shield of the Order of the Carmelites. In the interior we find a staircase and a courtyard, both of which were attributed to Covarrubias.

University of Alcalá de Henares, or College of San Ildefonso

Best Places To Travel In Alcalá de Henares
University of Alcalá de Henares, or College of San Ildefonso
It was created by Cardinal Cisneros and given the name of College of San Ildefonso. The doorway is a fine example of the rich ornamentation of the purest Spanish Renaissance style. This, along with Salamanca, was the birthplace of Humanism.

Its construction began in the 15th century and was completed by Pedro Gumiel in the 16th. Only the assembly hall remains from the original building, with coffering and a Plateresque tribune. The façade is the most important part of the building.

It was built by Rodrigo Gil de Hontañón in the Plateresque style, and originally designed as an altarpiece divided by pilasters and columns. It has various courtyards in different styles, one of which is unfinished. The assembly room is one of the finest examples of the Cisneros style, combining Mudéjar features in plaster and wood with Plateresque decoration.

Salón Cervantes Theatre

Best Places To Travel In Alcalá de Henares
Salón Cervantes Theatre
Built in 1888, this is one of the city's two theatres. It has a rectangular floor plan, and both the façade and the interior were remodelled in 1925 and subsequently refurbished in 1989. It offers a varied programme of events.

The Universes of Cervantes Visitor Centre

Best Places To Travel In Alcalá de Henares
The Universes of Cervantes Visitor Centre
It is located in one of the most symbolic sites associated with the figure of Miguel de Cervantes in the city: the chapels of Antezana and El Oidor. They stand on the site of the church in which the author of Don Quixote was baptised, once the parish church of Santa María la Mayor, now demolished.

Among other priceless pieces on display on its interior are the baptismal font and a reproduction of Cervantes' baptismal certificate, dated 9 October 1547. It also offers an extensive programme of temporary activities throughout the year.

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