Day Trip to Alcalá: Literary Roots

Beyond Madrid

by Julie Espinosa


Alcalá de Henares, 25 km east of Madrid, is a charming UNESCO world heritage city worth a day trip. Its claim to fame is being the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes, the author of Don Quijote de la Mancha.

1. Museo-Casa Cervantes: Learn here about Cervantes’ life and get a glimpse of life in the 17th century and copies of Don Quijote on display. Free admission.

2. Universidad de Alcalá: Tour the university campus, spread through the city center, which boasts very old buildings and a particularly impressive main façade. You can also see the city’s native stork population roosting overhead.

3. Plaza de Cervantes: Stroll the main plaza of the city, anchored by a statue of its namesake. Nearby is the city tourist office and an art exhibition space in the Capilla de Oidor. Alacalaínos love to congregate here, especially around sunset.

4. Calle Mayor: Explore this pedestrian-only cobblestone street to the north of Plaza de Cervantes, with its shops and cafés.

5. Semana Cervantina: If you can visit for Cervantes’ birthday celebration (October 9), you’ll be in for a week-long medieval festival and other events paying homage to the author.

You can get to Alcalá in about 40 minutes via Cercanías lines C-1, C-2 or C-7, departing from Atocha in Madrid.

See map below for locations mentioned above:

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Comment from ben
Date: April 8, 2008, 9:01 am

Wonderful photo!

Comment from ClareH
Date: April 9, 2008, 9:38 pm

Ah, the good old Cervantes statue! Thank you for this post, it brought back a lot of memories of my time in Alcala on Erasmus in 2005 – not least the special 2 week celebration of the 400th anniversary of the publication of Don Quijote! There was also a great Medieval market there in October, don’t know if it’s an annual thing but it is definitely worth a look if so…

Comment from ClareH
Date: April 9, 2008, 9:43 pm

PS Also worth seeing is the cathedral – at the end of Calle Mayor away from the Plaza de Cervantes.