Alcalá and Cervantes, Cervantes and Alcalá. They seem to be inseparable
in the life and livelihood of the city. Miguel de Cervantes,
literary figure and world renowned author, presides over many of
the events and celebrations that occur in Alcalá de Henares. A
statue of the author can be found in the center of the main plaza
of the city in which he was born. The area, which holds his name,
Plaza de Cervantes, is the true social center of the city.
Cervantes is an interesting historical figure. He is both a
man of letters and of arms. As customary in the era, he fought
with the Spanish Armada, and had lost his left arm in the Battle
of Lepanto. But for what he is most acclaimed worldwide is his
invention of the literary genre: the novel. He wrote Don
Quijote de la Mancha, a work translated into many different languages
and well know throughout the world.
There are many festivals and events celebrated in the city
which carry the mark of this ingenious author. One of the most
important is the presentation of the Cervantes Award for
Literature by the King of Spain at the University of Alcalá
de Henares. It is one of the most prestigious awards for
literature written in the Spanish language. This award is given
every year on April 23rd coinciding with the death of this famous
writer. There are many surrounding events including a book
In Fall Alcalá de Henares celebrates the Semana Cervantina,
commemorating the baptism of Miguel de Cervantes. The city is transformed
during this week long celebration to resemble 17th century
marketplace with street theater, music, expositions and
On weekends, from April to June and September to December, you can
enjoy a trip on the "Cervantes Train". This
special train transports tourists from Madrid to Alcaláso they can visit the most beautiful and representative places
in this city. The train leaves from Atocha train station inviting
you on a trip full of surprises. As you board the train
people dressed in period clothes great you in true Golden Age
formality. During the trip they provide delicious and typical
foods. During the visit to the historical center of Alcalá actors
represent small theatrical pieces based on literature masterpieces
of the 17th century.
And if you are interested in knowing more about this author and
the place he was born, you can visit the Cervantes Home and
Museum. Here you can learn about life in the times of
Cervantes and more about the author and his works. There are
two distinct areas of the museum. One part is the recreation of a
typical home of the 16th and 17th century with typical furniture
and rooms, giving a true picture of daily life of that time
period. The second area of the museum is an exposition of the
author's various works, in different languages, and illustrated by
different artists, with editions from the 17th century tot he
present. Of great importance is the first edition of "El
Quijote" from 1605; the second edition of "El Quijote"
in English from 1912, and also an edition with lithographic images
by Salvador Dalí.
Precisely because it is the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes,
it was chosen in 1991 to be the home of the Cervantes Institute.
This important institution is a public organization
for teaching and promotion of the Spanish language and culture in
the world. The organization has over 30 centers throughout the
world dedicated to the teaching of Spanish, but still maintains
it's first center in the "Colegio del Rey" building in
the center of Alcalá de Henares.