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Still Discovering Spain...

Here for over 25 years and I still discover new things every day...

The Original University City
Saturday, June 29, 2024 @ 9:31 AM


Alcalá de Henares is the city where Miguel de Cervantes was born, writer of the world-famous Don Quixote de la Mancha. Its University and historic neighbourhood are what makes this town so special. The main axis of the historic centre of Alcalá de Henares is the Calle Mayor. The birthplace of Cervantes is located on this very road, which has now been converted into a museum that recreates the atmosphere of a 16th and 17th century home. However, of all the buildings in the town, there is one that stands out in particular: the University. Founded by Cardinal Cisneros, its walls welcomed some of the greatest Spanish minds such as Lope de Vega, Calderón de la Barca and Quevedo.

 Alcala de Henares was the first university city that was specifically planned urbanistically to be so, making it unique in the world. And it was so successful that it effectively became the blueprint for other university cities around Europe and America. Cardinal Cisneros was the mind behind the planning and was the one responsible for choosing a somewhat uninhabited area in between the Plaza del Mercado and the gates of Guadalajara, to establish what would become the famous academic district in the 15th Century. The district included all the housing that was necessary for the teachers and their families and all the buildings needed to house the services and suppliers of the university, such as the printers or bookstores. This radical form of urbanism was new for the times but contributed in such a way to the development of the field of humanities that UNESCO declared Alcalá de Henares a World Heritage City in 1998.



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