Iglesia de Santa María or of Santa María la Mayor in Alcalà de Henares!

At the end of the day past all the main tv shows, let me tell you about a nice Church with a nice anecdote for us while visiting Alcalà de Henares in the Comunidad de Madrid. I will be talking about the Church of Saint Mary or Saint Mary the Major.

This is a smallish city but it is pack with monuments of a rich history and great architecture compact in the city center. We have always arrived by car into an underground parking San Lucas (Plaza San Lucas)  outside the old town and just walk in very easily to see all on foot. The best combination possible anywhere.

Let me start, and even if written bits of it in my other Alcalà de Henares posts, really deserves a post on its own; here it goes.

The Church of Saint Mary or Iglesia de Santa María or of Santa María la Mayor is the denomination that has had two buildings throughout history in the city of Alcalá de Henares. Of the old Church of Santa Maria, located south of the Plaza de Cervantes , in front of the city/town hall, there is only the design of its plant marked on the ground and two parts that have been restored: the tower and a chapel. This, called the (Capilla de los Oidos) Chapel of the Ears, of Mudejar decoration, contains a baptismal font specially celebrated for being in which Miguel de Cervantes (Don Quijote writer author) was baptized; It is currently destined for temporary exhibitions and the “universes of Cervantes” interpretation Center , sort of a museum to understand the work of Cervantes. This Chapel was built at the beginning of the 15C by King Juan II of Castilla, in what was then a hermitage under the patronage of San Juan de los Caballeros (Saint John of the Knights) or of Letran. And that in 1454 Bishop Carrillo made the Church under the patronage of St. Mary. For centuries, the towers of St. Mary and the Holy Children (Santos Niños) represented the duality institutional of City Hall and University. The first as a parish Church and the second as Magisterial. The Stork’s Nest of the tower is protected, which obliges to restrict the scaling visits in breeding season. This Church was destroyed at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War by 1936.

After the war, the denomination of Church of Santa Maria La Mayor was applied to the Church of the former Jesuit college: the Colegio Maximo of the Company of Jesus, current Faculty of Law of the University of Alcalá, in the Calle Libreros (booksellers). This building, started in 1567, interrupted its construction until 1602-1620, when thanks to donations from the Mendoza family was terminated, in the absence of the façade. Its style is the conventional of the Jesuit churches of Italian influence. Four statues of Saint Peter, Saint Paul, Saint Ignatius and Saint Francis Xavier stand out on the façade. The connection to the Mendoza is attested by the presence of its heraldic shield. The main altarpiece, baroque, is the work of the Jesuit Francisco Bautista; His paintings were destroyed in the Spanish Civil war and were replaced by new ones, of the Parishioner Manuel Palero.

Alcala de Henares

Alcala de Henares

Alcala de Henares

First, it testifies to the early splendor of the company of Jesus founded by Ignatius of Loyola in the transit of the Renaissance to the Baroque, in that city that attracted the founder on his return from the Holy Land and, in whose Hospital of Antezana at Calle Mayor, still remains the Kitchen where he prepared his meals. As usual, the architectural model of the Gesu in Rome is omnipresent; a Latin cross plant with a large presbytery, a cupola on the transept and a side chapel connected to each other. For the façade, the Roman Church of San Giacomo deli Incurable   was taken as a reference. The temple is a symbol of the reformation and served as an example for successive  Jesuit Churches. Like other conventual spaces in Alcalá de Henares, the collegiate building became a cavalry barracks until the 80’s of the 20C when it was rehabilitated to host the Faculty of Law, inaugurated in 1991.

Alcala de Henares

Alcala de Henares

Annexed to the Church is the Chapel of the Santas Formas (holy forms), from the 17C, decorated in 1699 by Juan Vicente Ribera, and which was added a sacristy in the early 18C

Alcala de Henares

I have several webpages that I believe offers great information even if some in Spanish on the subject of these Churches. These are

Church on Costasur webpage of Alcala de Henares

Webpage on main Street on the Church and Alcalà de Henares

Local effort on tourism and the Church Saint Mary

Official city of Alcala de Henares on tourist sites

Tourist office of Alcala de Henares on Chapel of Listeners

Tourist office of Alcala de Henares on Tower of St Mary

Tourist office of Alcala de Henares on tourist sites

Center of Interpretation Cervantes on Church St Mary

Well , this is an unique Church with a lot more history that is actually available online but I hope gave you enough to get a more complete picture of it, the Tower of St Mary ,remaining of old Church, and the Chapel as well as the Hospital Antezana (where Cervantes father was a surgeon doctor) and the Cervantes interpretation center.

Alcala de Henares

Alcala de Henares

Alcala de Henares

The anecdote is that by the side of the Church there is a tapas bar offering tapas for as little as one euro and a glass of beer for 70 cents! La Gitana Loca, (the crazy gipsy) and this I have spread the words to my family and friends in Madrid and are livid about it, just wonderful place indeed. And yes even this wrote about it before in my blog, bet you have not notice lol!  See it here again! La Gitana Loca

Alcala de Henares

Enjoy the visit, and remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!



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3 Comments to “Iglesia de Santa María or of Santa María la Mayor in Alcalà de Henares!”

  1. I love that name: La Gitana Loca! I simply must go there, not just for the cheap beer and tapas! I always wanted to see the place where our greatest writer was born. It looks beautiful too. Thank you for sharing this. 👍❤


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Alcala is a a lovely city. Thanks for the memory nudge.


    Liked by 1 person

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