Alcalá has history oozing out of each of its cobblestoned streets. It is only a 25-minute train ride from Madrid and is worth an in-depth visit.
Imagine touring Shakespeare’s home town of Stratford-upon-Avon, the Oxford University and viewing an original translation of William Tyndale’s Bible all in one afternoon. For lovers of literature and history the city of Alcalá de Henares, just outside of Madrid, has the Spanish equivalent to those English historical icons and more.
Miguel de Cervantes, a contemporary of Shakespeare, had as much influence over the Spanish language as the Bard did over English. His most famous work, Don Quixote, was the first fantasy style novel ever written and changed the way literature was looked at for centuries to come. Cervantes was born in Alcalá and his childhood home is one of the stops on our tour. You will not only get to see how his family of modest means lived in the 16th century, but you will discover the answer to a fascinating riddle that involves both Cervantes and Shakespeare.
Alcalá didn’t just have a prestigious University from the 15th century, which many American Universities were later modelled, it was a “University City.” Find out why it was called a University City and why this was such an exceptional achievement for its time period.
Cardenal Cisneros, who was a driving force behind the building of the University, had an even larger dream than seeing Alcalá become one of the greatest learning centres in Europe in its day. Cisneros wanted to gather all the scholastic talent available in Spain and Europe for the purpose of producing a multi-language Bible—the Polyglot. This massive feat took years of work collecting manuscripts, data and then writing into the languages Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic and Latin. Only 600 copies were ever printed, but very few of those survived. Find out why so few have survived as well as numerous challenges of this immense project when we stop to see one of the few originals at the Laredo Museum.
As if the above mentioned weren’t enough of a reason to come and see Alcalá, you will also see where Christopher Columbus met with Queen Isabella to discuss his jaunt across the pond in search of wealth and glory. In the same palace where this historic meeting took place, another event happened that eventually changed the European religious landscape forever.
The beauty of Alcalá is almost everything there is to see and explore is within a relatively small area, so it can easily be covered on foot in a short period of time.
Your guides, Kim, Cristina and Jose Tomas are all enthusiastic about history, storytelling and Alcalá. They will immerse you into life in the 16th century and tell you tidbits of information you would never learn if you were just walking through this town on your own. You can have tours in English or Spanish.
What you will see:
University of Alcalá
Calle Mayor which is the longest Portico in Spain
Jewish section of Alcalá
Corral de Comedias (oldest theatre in Europe)
Birth house of Cervantes (includes tour inside his house)
See the oldest hospital in Europe
Archbishop's palace (Where Christopher Columbus met with Queen Isabella I)
Laredo museum which houses the Polyglot Bible.
To find out other available times, contact us directly by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
New tours are being added that may not be on our web yet, feel free to ask about our upcoming tours.