Alcalá de Henares
"World Heritage Site"
Alcalá de Henares is a lovely city located on the banks of the Henares river, 17 miles E.N.E, of Madrid. Today is a sizeable city with a population of 200.000.
Called Complutum in Roman times, the town is triply famous as the former seat of a great university founded in 1293, refounded en 1499 and transferred in 1836 to Madrid, as the birthplace of Ferdinand I, Katherine of Aragón, and Cervantes and so designated World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Alcalá is famous for its University, which was founded in 1499 (although its origin is in 1293) by Cardinal Cisneros, confessor to Queen Isabella. The main facade of the Universidad de Alcalá (1543) is one of the jewels of Spanish Plateresque architecture. Its immense wooden doors lead to the Patio de Santo Tomás de Villanueva, a three story patio with a well that features a swan motif (the emblem of the Cisneros family). The Patio de los Filosófos leads to the serene Patio Trilingúe (Trilingual). To the right is the Paraninfo, formerly used for examinations and degree ceremonies and currently the setting for the awarding of the Premio Cervantes, the most important award in Spanish Literature.