Turismo Madrid

 

Rutas Patrimonio de la Humanidad en la Comunidad de Madrid

Ruta 1 > Itinerario 5

Essential Alcalá de Henares Itinerary

5,2 KM

An 8-hour route to see the most important elements of the city of Alcalá, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1998, highlighting the consideration of being the first city designed and built especially as the headquarters of a university, during the Spanish Renaissance, and symbolizing the ideal city, the city of God (Civitas Dei), which materialized through its convents and colleges. Alcalá de Henares has consolidated its commitment to the preservation of its rich historical and artistic heritage, based on more than two thousand years of history, becoming a dynamic city brimming with cultural activity.

Ruta Paso a Paso

Alcalá de Henares railroad station

The route begins at the Alcalá de Henares railroad station, which can be easily reached from Madrid using the frequent commuter train service or the Cervantes tourist train. For those who prefer to go by car, it is only necessary to take the A-2 highway to exit 23. Once in Alcalá, there are several regulated parking options.

The train station was inaugurated in 1859 by the company MZA (Compañía de los Ferrocarriles de Madrid a Zaragoza y Alicante). The current station dates from 1989 and is currently under renovation.

Cercanías commuter train schedule

Cervantes' tourist train

 

01. Laredo Palace

The Hotel Laredo, completed in 1886, was designed by the multifaceted Manuel José de Laredo y Ordoño. He recreated in its interior spaces a fantastic ensemble employing fresco paintings, wooden ceilings, plaster decorations and glazed ceramics, together with some illusionistic effects and trompe l'oeil that constitute a true neo-historicist compendium by the personal tastes of this singular nineteenth-century artist.

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02. Santa María la Mayor Church and Chapel of the Holy Relics

The church and college of the Compañía de Jesús, with its multiple dependencies, constitute one of the most important monumental complexes of the city. The construction of the church began in 1567, following the projects of the Jesuit architect Bartolomé Bustamante. The works were resumed in 1602 with the intervention of Juan Gómez de Mora, and were completed in 1620. The layout of the church, with a Latin cross, a dome over the transept, a large presbytery and side chapels communicating with each other, follows the model of the church of the Gesù in Rome, as does its façade, built by Gaspar Ordóñez under the direction of the architects Francisco de Mora and Juan Gómez de Mora.

 

 

03. Clares Convent of San Diego

This convent of the Third Order of St. Francis was founded by Catalina Garcia in 1670 as Colegio de Doncellas Pobres de Santa Clara. In 1837 the school of maidens had an oratory and in 1906 it adhered to the order of Santa Clara. Inside you can buy the famous candied almonds of Alcalá.

 

04. Alcalá University (St. Ildefonsus College and Chapel, Santo Tomás de Villanueva Courtyard and the Paranymph)

The most important building of the entire university complex is the St. Ildefonsus College, the university's main building. It was built in the time of Cisneros and consisted of three interconnected courtyards: the patio Mayor de Escuelas (currently Santo Tomás de Villanueva), the patio de Continuos and the so-called patio del Colegio Nuevo. The façade of the University was built in 1537 by Rodrigo Gil de Hontañón and was finished in 1553.

The chapel of St. Ildefonsus is the work of Pedro de Gumiel, completed in 1510. It is the burial place of great figures linked to the University such as Antonio de Nebrija, Pedro de Gumiel, or the "divine" Vallés, doctor of King Philip II. It is one of the most significant examples of the "Cisneros style". In its interior the following stand out: the eight-sided polychrome wooden frame that covers the main chapel, the coffered ceiling of Mudejar carpentry that covers the area of the faithful, made by Alonso de Quevedo, and the walls, embellished with a rich and profuse plaster decoration, made in 1515. It also preserves in its interior the splendid tomb of Cisneros, one of the best examples of the classicist sculpture of the Spanish Renaissance, made in the Carrara workshop of Bartolomé Ordóñez in 1519.

The patio of Santo Tomás de Villanueva replaces the patio Mayor de Escuelas, ruined at the end of the 16th century. It was rebuilt in 1617 according to the project of Juan Gómez de Mora, chief architect of King Philip III.

The Paranymph or Scholastic Theater was the place for the imposition of degrees and where the solemn academic acts took place. It was built by Pedro de Villarroel, in 1520, under the direction of the master Gutierre de Cárdenas. The carpentry work, including its monumental wooden ceiling, was directed by Andrés de Zamora. The plasterwork tribune, with fine reliefs inspired by ornamental repertoires of Renaissance origin, is the place from which where the teachers of the university gave their teachings and where the future university doctors defended their degrees.

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05. Doctrinos’ Hermitage

It dates from 1581, when Juan López de Úbeda, a priest, and graduate from Toledo, who taught theology at the University of Alcalá, promoted his teaching work with a seminary for children in Christian doctrine in some old buildings that coincide with the current garden of the hermitage. The Christ that Don Juan used in his classes was known as the Christ of the Doctrines and it was customary for the students of the University to entrust their luck in the exams to this Christ.

06. Corpus Christi Convent

It was built from 1615 on, following the traces of Fray Alberto de la Madre de Dios, in collaboration with Francisco de Mora.

07. St. Basil the Great Convent

It was built in 1750, in baroque style and hexagonal plant. In 1803, with the decline of the University of Alcalá, it was transformed into the Academy of Engineers of Alcalá de Henares. In 1991 the rehabilitation of the building began and in 1996 it was acquired by the University of Alcalá to convert it into a cultural center.

08. Málaga College

It was founded by Don Juan Alonso de Moscoso. Its construction, in 1623, with twin courtyards, is due to Juan Gómez de Mora and Sebastián de la Plaza.

09. Discalced Trinitarians Convent

The building was designed by an unknown architect around 1625. It responds to the scheme established by Juan de Herrera and his disciple Francisco de Mora, which conformed to the type of church typical of the 17th century. It is organized around a square two-story cloister and a large church with a dome over the transept. The church rises above the street level thanks to a staircase, under which there is a crypt occupied by burials. Between 1994 and 1996 it underwent a thorough restoration by the State and the University of Alcalá.

10. Caracciolini’s Convent of St. Joseph

It has its origin in a school founded in 1613, later Francesco Caracciolo arrived in Alcalá to indoctrinate young religious and promoted the construction of a school, 1622, which was consecrated to St. Joseph. The building is organized around two cloisters separated by a wide imperial staircase covered by an elliptical baroque dome. It currently houses the Municipal Archives as well as classrooms of the University of Alcalá.

11. Augustinian convent of St. Mary Magdalene

It was founded in the 16th century as a shelter for women in prostitution and was under the protection of Cardinal Gaspar Quiroga. Later it changed its location and became a cloistered convent of Augustinian nuns until 1672. Inside is the Renaissance image of the Virgin of Mercy, patron saint of the city.

12. Tower of Santa María

It is the disappeared church of Santa Maria la Mayor tower, destroyed at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War in 1936. It is 34 meters high and serves as a viewpoint of the historic center of Alcalá.

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13. Oidor’s Chapel and Tourist Information Center

It is located next to the ruins of the Church of Santa Maria. It was founded as the family pantheon of Don Pedro Díaz de Toledo, judge of Juan II. The building has lost its magnificent polychrome woodwork and the tombs of the founder and his family, but inside, surrounded by white Gothic plasterwork, is the baptismal font where Miguel de Cervantes was baptized in 1547.

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14. Alcalá de Henares Town Hall

The present building is the work of Cirilo Vara y Soria, built in 1870 to replace the old hospital of Agonizantes. The building was designed to house, in addition to the town hall, schools and a Civil Guard barracks. It is inspired by French decorative eclecticism, close to the Napoleon III style.

 

15. Bandstand

It is the work of the municipal architect Martín Pastells, built in 1898.

 

16. Casino

The Círculo de Contribuyentes or casino was built in 1893, closing the university block on the southeast quadrant of the Plaza de Cervantes. Its façade, recessed, has two terraces on both sides of the main staircase. Its main hall, decorated in 1901 by Félix Yuste, stands out.

17. Cervantes' Statue

It is the work of Carlo Nicoli, made in bronze and inaugurated in 1879. It rested on a pedestal, the work of Manuel Laredo, made in stone of Colmenar.

 

18. Theatrical Courtyard

Known as the Cervantes theater or "teatro Chico", the theatrical courtyard "de los zapateros" of Alcalá de Henares is one of the best-documented scenic spaces of the Spanish Golden Age. During the 16th century, the university programmed theatrical performances, and the companies that came to the city were frequent, although there was no permanent venue like the Court's "corrales de comedias". In 1601, a patio de comedias was built in the town's Plaza del Mercado, following the model of the Corral de la Cruz in Madrid.

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19. The Penance of St. John Convent

Its origin is the school-convent of the Barefoot Augustinians of St. Nicholas of Tolentino, after the exclaustration the building had different uses until the 19th century when it was ceded to the community of Franciscan nuns of St. John of Penance. The church is from the XVII century and responds to the model of the Complutense baroque, with the facade slightly recessed to facilitate its contemplation.

 

20. Salón Cervantes Theatre

It is the work of José María Aguilar y Vela, inaugurated in 1888. Its present appearance is due to the reform carried out in 1925, in the modernist style. In its facilities was projected, for the first time in Alcalá, the cinematograph, in 1897. At present, it has a wide cultural program of cinema, theater, dance, and music. It annually hosts the City of Alcalá Awards Ceremony and the ALCINE gala, Alcalá de Henares' short film festival since 1970.

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21. Calle Mayor

It was the main street of the Jewish quarter during the late Middle Ages and the most important commercial axis of the town. This is due to its arcaded structure, almost 400 m long, originally built with wooden posts, replaced in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by columns. It runs between the Plaza de Cervantes and the Plaza de los Santos Niños.

 

22. Antezana Hospital

It was founded in 1483 by Don Luis de Antezana and his wife, Doña Isabel de Guzmán, who gave part of their main houses to the institution. The building, of Mudejar architecture, consists of a church and a large courtyard around which the functional dependencies were arranged. It still maintains its welfare function, after more than five hundred years of uninterrupted activity.

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23. Birthplace of Cervantes

Thanks to the publication, in 1941, of the Exemplary and Heroic Life of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, we know that the house where the surgeon Rodrigo de Cervantes and his family lived was located "in the Calle de la Imagen, behind the Antezana hospital", where the bleeder provided his services. Five of their seven children were born there, including Miguel de Cervantes, and they remained there until they decided to move to Valladolid. The Cervantes Birthplace Museum, inaugurated in 1956, is managed by the region of Madrid and aims to recreate the atmosphere of a wealthy Spanish house of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

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24. Magisterial Cathedral of St Justus and St Pastor

Erected on the site of the martyrdom of the Holy Children, a pious tradition maintained since the fourth century by early Christianity, was the original core of the village that emerged after the reconquest of the Henares valley in the thirteenth century. The old "martyria" was rebuilt by Archbishop Rodrigo Jiménez de Rada and enlarged in 1290 by Archbishop García Gudiel, becoming known as the Chapel of the Archbishops of Toledo. By a papal bull of Pope Sixtus IV, at the request of Archbishop Carrillo, it was erected as a collegiate church in 1477, beginning major renovation work continued by Cardinal Pedro Gonzalez de Mendoza. It was Cardinal Cisneros, after founding the university and undertaking an extensive program of reforms in the town, who decided to rebuild the new church, with the participation of Antón and Enrique Egás. In 1519 Pope Leo X granted him the title of magisterial, following the model of St. Peter of Louvain, whose chapter was made up exclusively of doctors who graduated from its university.

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Magisterial Cathedral Tower

 

25. Medieval Alcalá Interpretation Center

Allows visitors to interpret the primitive medieval burg of the city of Alcalá. During the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, there were two distinct populations: one in the high, fortified, known as Alcalá la Vieja and another in the valley, grouped around the church of San Justo, which was the nucleus of the clerical villa, temporary residence of the archbishops of Toledo, the origin of the medieval city.

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26. Walls and Antiquarium

This is a museum area on the perimeter of the walled enclosure. The archaeological walk includes the parapet, tower 14, towers 15 and 16, the Burgos gate, and the north, east and south walls. The Antiquarium is made up of three exhibition units dedicated to elements of the disappeared archbishop's palace: the patio de Armas, the Ave María and Hallelujah galleries, and the patio de Columnas or Fonseca.

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27. Madrid Gateway

The current Madrid Gateway was inaugurated in 1788 to replace one of the medieval gates of the old walled enclosure. It was paid for by Cardinal Lorenzana, archbishop of Toledo, during the reign of Carlos III. The architect Antonio Juana Jordán directed the works.

 

28. Open-air Sculpture Museum

The Open-Air Sculpture Museum of Alcalá de Henares was founded in 1991 on the initiative of the sculptor José Noja. It is located in two urban sections of the city: around the walls that protect the archbishop's palace and along the Vía Complutense. Around 50 sculptures make up the collection, which aims to be the largest in Europe. The sculptures group various styles and techniques ranging from figurative art, cubism, or conceptualism to abstract art.

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29. Monastery of St. Bernard

Founded for Cistercian nuns by Cardinal Sandoval y Rojas in 1617. Its church, with an oval floor plan, has six chapels. The ellipse of the central space is covered by a dome designed by Juan Gómez de Mora. In the main chapel, visually communicated both with the upper and lower choirs of the convent and with the space of the faithful, there is a baroque baldachin altarpiece by the Jesuit Hermano Bautista.

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30. Archbishop's Palace and Tenorio's Tower

Located in the northwest sector of the medieval fence, it was formed by its system of defenses in whose interior a group of buildings, called archbishop's houses, was arranged. Construction began in the 13th century, in the time of Rodrigo Jiménez de Rada, as a temporary residence for the archbishops of Toledo. The first important works were carried out by Archbishop Tenorio, to whom we owe the construction of the stately castle and several walls that reached the easternmost tower of the palace, known as the tower of Tenorio. In the 15th century, the works continued with the reinforcement of the defenses and the construction of the sumptuous hall of Conciliation. It was frequented by the Catholic Monarchs and was the birthplace of Catherine of Aragon, future Queen of England, and Ferdinand I of Hapsburg, Holy Roman Emperor. During the 16th century, with the interventions of Cardinals Cisneros and Tavera, the building became a landmark of the Spanish Renaissance. The current construction is only a part of the building destroyed by a devastating fire in 1939.

 

31. Regional Archaeological Museum

The former Dominican convent of the Madre de Dios became, in 1985, the Regional Archaeological Museum of the region of Madrid, which opened its doors in 1999. The museum has a permanent exhibition that includes paleontological fossils, Paleolithic and Neolithic tools, Bronze Age and Iron Age remains an important collection from the Roman period and elements from the Ancient, Middle, and Modern ages, including archaeology from the industrial period. The museum also holds temporary exhibitions on archeology, paleontology, and history.

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