Universidad de AlcaláOne of Europe’s oldest universities, with early origins that can be traced as far back as 1293, the University of Alcalá as we know it today was founded in 1499 by Cardinal Cisneros. Conceived as a veritable City of God on Earth, the Cisnerian University’s complex of colleges and convents was the world’s first campus university, one reason why UNESCO declared university and city a World Heritage site in 1998. (Find out more at the University site.)
Founded in 1602, the current buildings date from the period 1662-1725. On the University’s transfer to Madrid in the nineteenth-century, the college was used variously as military prison, fodder store and bakery. Since 1987, the buildings have been extensively rennovated,
This is the main historical building in the campus is the Colegio de San Ildefonso, where the head office of the University can be found. Built between 1501 and 1513, the Colegio Mayor de San Ildefonso’s most familiar face is its magnificent plateresque façade.
The CityAlcalá de Henares is best known worldwide as the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes, creator of Don Quixote. Cervantes’ statue will guide you as you shuttle between Colegio de Málaga and the Rectorate, while his birthplace museum is well worth a visit between sessions. Visit the city website.
HOW TO GET HEREThe city of Alcalá de Henares is only 30 kms away from Madrid and 15 kms from the nearest airport – Madrid-Barajas. It is a small, lively city (about 200,000 inhabitants), closely connected to its university. Its historical centre is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites and it is well known as the birth-place of Cervantes. A touristic location, there is a wide range of hotels, as well as bars, pubs and taverns that serve “tapas” to accompany a drink, and a variety of restaurants serving a two course meal at affordable prices at walking distance from the university. Travelling to the venue is easy and convenient:
- By plane: Madrid Airport Adolfo Suárez-Barajas is only a fifteen-minute taxi ride away and there is also a bus line 824 from the Airport to Alcalá de Henares
- By train, from Madrid, via commuter (Cercanías) trains C2 and C7 (Chamartín-Alcalá de Henares-Guadalajara), a 40 minute journey, with a train frequency of 5-10 minutes