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Alcala : A City With a Story to Tell

By Meg West - Sun 7th Apr 2013

Although it would be hard to get bored of Madrid, it’s always nice to have a change of scenery and explore a new place. Just over half an hour on the train from Madrid, cheap, easy to travel to and with loads of stuff to keep you busy for the whole day, Alcalá de Henares provides the perfect opportunity to do just that.

Besides just being really pretty, Alcalá is brimming with history. Home to one of the oldest universities in Spain, the town is scattered with impressive, original university buildings. For just 4 € you can enjoy a guided tour of the main university building, which includes wandering through numerous arched patios and viewing an exquisitely decorated hall. Alternatively you can just admire the grand facade from the outside, which is impressive enough in itself.

Alcalá is also well-known for being the birth place of the famous Spanish writer Cervantes (for those of you who may not have heard of him he’s Spain’s answer to Shakespeare). His old family home has now been made into a museum and offers free entry for the general public. Inside you’ll find various rooms (“Rooms in a house?” I hear you say), such as the room in which he was born, and other points of interest such as the two rooms dedicated to many a different copy of Don Quijote.

The cathedral of Alcalá is also worth a visit. Watch out for entry times though, because there’s always a break in the day from one o’clock onwards but if you miss the opening hours it’s still worth a look from the outside.

For archaeology enthusiasts (or simply those who fancy packing as much as possible into one day) there’s also the Regional Museum of Archaeology. Have to admit this wasn’t really my thing, but it was free to enter and was still interesting to look around, as much as it may have been a flying visit. If anything it’s worth going just to see the building it’s located in.

And what to do when you’re exhausted at the end of a long day of sight-seeing ? What else but to sit down and enjoy a well-deserved meal. Alcalá is well known for its tapas, which generally come in larger portions than those of restaurants in Madrid or other cities. As always there’s something to suit all tastes and budgets, just try to turn up an hour earlier or later than the standard 9-10pm Spanish eating time to avoid full restaurants and long waits at weekends.

If you fancy going all out and experiencing all that Alcalá has to offer in terms of night life as well, you won’t be disappointed. Alcalá is a student town so there are plenty of bars and clubs to satisfy every party-goer’s needs, from majority Spanish hang-outs to the classic Erasmus parties.

So there you go; if you’re ever stuck for something to do with your weekend, pop to Alcalá for a bit of cultured fun. Alternatively look out for a trip to Alcalá on the Inhispania activities board; it’s one of our frequent (and favourite) destinations!

Comment on this Blog

Hmm, all true, but it wears a bit thin after fifteen years .... glad you liked it anyway and it is pretty, I have to admit.
Mo - Tue, 23rd Apr 2013

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