Alcalà de Henares and Cervantes or is it Don Quijote!

Coming back to nice Alcalà de Henares, almost a backyard of my beloved Madrid. I have, think I told you this, spent many years here from the age of 10 ,and eventually came with the wife,  my dear late wife Martine, and then with the 3 boys; and always memories. I have written some posts on the city but what about Cervantes?

One cannot come here without at least visiting once the House Museum of Don Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra at Calle Mayor,48.  Always difficult to pinpoint exactly ,and he had several houses in his life, but this one is recognized as been the birthplace.

The Museo Casa Natal de Cervantes  is in Alcala de Henares at the Calle Mayor next to the Hospital de Antezana. The current house is from 1956 done in the traditional way of the Castilian countryside  . Miguel was the son of Rodrigo de Cervantes a surgeon doctor and Leonor de Cortinas,  We do not know exactly his birthplace but Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra is recognize as been born in this city in 1547, even if the only record is of his baptism here in the same year at the Church of St Mary or Santa Maria in front of the city hall even if from this Church only remains the tower, and some column bases and chapels.

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At the time of him living here the house belongs to his Aunt Maria in which he lived until 1551 when he moved to Valladolid, where there is another house he lived in. The house is of two floors and is in the corner of Calle Mayor and Calle de la Imagen. There are ,also houses in Madrid, and Esquivias.

I will unusually put some webpages to help you plan your trip here at this point

The official webpage of the House Museum : http://www.museocasanataldecervantes.org/information/

More in English from the tourist office of Alcala de Henares http://www.turismoalcala.es/turismo/museo-casa-natal-de-cervantes/

In the museum, you see a daily life of a well off Castilian family in the 16C and 17C showing public and private spaces.  It has an important library section with previous editions of his work in all periods and all languages, including the first part of El Quijote edited in Lisbon in 1605.  At the street level floor, you have rooms dedicated to the social and daily life  such as a living room, dining room, a Ladies room, pharmacy as his father was a surgeon in the hospital of Antezana.

From the entrance garden of Cervantes, the central courtyard is reach. This is a traditional element in the Alcalainas houses. It has eight columns of granite and limestone with Corinthian capitals, on the ground floor, while the upper floor shows the balustrade and the wooden pillars. It stands out in the courtyard in a corner, the original well of the house in an octagonal shape.

The courtyard is passed to the podium or room of the ladies, a very characteristic room of the time, where they sat on the floor on cushions and rugs, to read, sew, pray, play music or chat. The furniture is of small size, like footstools, boxes, small desks. There could be some low stool for the Knights, who only entered here if they were invited.

The Noble Room is where visitors were greeted, you can see arm chairs or friars, with leather backing, buffets or tables and large braziers to warm up the stay in winter. The buffets were covered with cloths, as well as the walls with fine decorated sheep skins.

Leaving the courtyard, a hallway takes us to the pharmacy or chamber of Rodrigo, father of Miguel de Cervantes, who was a surgeon doctor. These “old surgeons” did more than Barbers, who were involved in indenting, much less than doctors.  In the room there is a surgeon’s table, an armchair to sit the patient, a mudejar style cupboard for medicines and remedies, many of them herbal, and various jars of pharmacy, in ceramics; All these are original objects from the 16C and 17C.

The dining room , which at the time there were no proper dining rooms, but the table was available in the meeting room, and so was the dressing room to eat. After eating the utensils of the food were removed, mainly plates and spoons, some Becket, the candlesticks to illuminate with candles the dinners, or a brazier to warm up in winter, which in this case is polygonal . Once again, all objects are originals of the golden Ages.

Kitchen and wine cellar , which, if you are a Spanish or Mediterranean visitor will be familiar in many of its objects, as it was in the 16C has remained until today in many rural areas of Spain. It has been arranged giving a very vivid image of how life was then, centered in the kitchen, to the point that when in the house many times slept there.  In the winery, once restored, audiovisuals are projected on the life of Miguel de Cervantes.

And of course ,why this why all the talk about a house a museum in little Alcala de Henares; well because the Don Quijote of La Mancha was a novel written by the Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. Published its first part with the title of the El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha at the beginning of 1605, it is the most outstanding work of the Spanish literature and one of the principal of the universal literature. In 1615 appeared its continuation with the title of Segunda parte del ingenioso caballero don Quijote de la Mancha. The Quijote of 1605 was published divided into four parts; But when the Quijote appeared of 1615 in the quality of the second part of the work, it was actually revoked the partition in four sections of the volume published ten years before by Cervantes.

The museum is free. The cercanias train  C-1, C-2 and C7A can take you here from Madrid, there is a bus no 223 from the bus depot at Avenida de América in Madrid; if by car as I did too, there is public parking at Pico del Obispo, Calle Cardenal Sandoval y Rojas with entrance at Puerta de Madrid. I rather park a bit away and walk in, via Complutence in parking San Lucas, just great easy in and out of the city.

Some of my previous blog posts on Alcala de Henares and a touch of Cervantes to round up your planning are here

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2017/09/04/alcala-de-henares-madrid-with-a-touch-of-cervantes/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2016/08/26/alcala-de-henares-cervantes-was-born-here/

There you go, a wonderful town to walk it all. You will be back, I know I will. And remember, happy travels, good health ,and many cheers to all!!

 

4 Comments to “Alcalà de Henares and Cervantes or is it Don Quijote!”

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