There are tons of cool little day trips in the Madrid region, and just outside of it as well, in cities like Toledo and Segovia. I've been on quite a few day trips from the city so I figured I'd write a series about day trip options for people who might be interested in getting out of the city for a day when they visit Madrid. Today, I'll start with a medieval town just outside of the city center!
Alcalá de Henares:
This city is located within the Comunidad de Madrid, and just a short train ride away from Madrid Centro. It is a beautiful city filled with nods to Don Quixote, as it is commonly said that this is the town that Miguel de Cervantes was born in. I truly felt as though we had gone back in time when we arrived in the city, with the windy cobblestone streets, beautiful plazas, and historic buildings.
Plaza de Cervantes
This is the main square in Alcalá. It is filled with the most interesting trees I've ever seen. This is the center of the area that you will be wandering around in. If you get lost just ask a local, ¿Dónde está la plaza de cervantes?
Obsessed with those crazy trees!
Just off of Plaza de Cervantes you'll find Gran Via, the main drag through the old city center. There are lots of little cafes and shops along this road, although they all seemed a bit touristy. We enjoyed people watching on this street and taking in the beautiful apartments that sat above the shops.
Catedral Magistral de los Santos Niños Justo y Pastor - built in 1436.
This cathedral was really cool as well! It is incrediiibly old. Although what we can see of it now was built in the 1400s, a chapel was originally created on the site in year 414. It went through a long period of time in which different groups capturing it and making it their own, until the founder of the University reconstructed it to look like what it does today. Apparently during the Spanish Civil War, almost everything in this cathedral was completely ruined. Lots of turmoil throughout the years!
The Don Quixote wall across the street from the old cathedral
One of the many references to Don Quixote and Miguel de Cervantes throughout Alcala. We really enjoyed looking at all of the little pictures up close at the bottom of the wall.
Click on the picture to see it larger!
Palacio Arzobispal - built in 1209
Apparently this is where the first meeting place of Christopher Columbus and the Catholic kings took place. I love everything having to do with Christopher Columbus and the New World discovery, so this was pretty exciting for me.
Universidad de Alcalá
Alcalá is home to what is said to be one of the oldest universities in Europe, Universidad de Alcalá. It is still a fully functioning university which happens to offer master's degrees in international education and TEFL! Pretty cool!
Street with a view. Alcalá is a beautiful place!
Unfortunately, my meal was completely unmemorable in Alcalá. We went to the town on a whim and I had no idea where to eat while we were there! We tried to follow the recommendation of a friend, but never found the suggested restaurant. However, one of the fabulous expat bloggers I follow posted a list a while back. If only I had thought to google her suggestions before we went! Check out her suggestions for good tapas and delicious pastries in Alcalá.
Take train C2 or train C7 from Atocha or Chamartin stations towards Alcala de Henares. Trains every 10-20 minutes. Find out more here. We had a to walk a bit from the train station to the historic city center. We used the maps function on our phones, but you might get lucky and catch the TI open!
I hope you enjoyed this post on the beautiful Alcala de Henares. Posts on Casa de Campo, Segovia, Toledo, and Chinchón to come!