The city of Alcalá de Henares belongs to the Autonomous Community of Madrid. It is located 30 km. from the capital on the Madrid-Barcelona motorway, and 20 km. from the International Airport of Barajas. Its population is approximately 200,000 inhabitants.
Founded in B.C. by the Romans, who named it "Complutum", its name was changed, during the Muslim rule (second half of 8th century) to "Qual´at abd al-Salam", where the present name of Alcalá comes from.
After the conquest by the Bishop of Toledo in 1118, the city became Seat and residence of the archbishops of Toledo, who walled and expanded it.
Alcalá de Henares reached the height of its glory at the end of the XV century, when Cardinal Cisneros founds the Complutense University. Its main site was the San Ildefonso College, which boasts an admirable plateresque façade.
During the XVIII and XIX centuries, the city suffers a progressive decay culminating in the transfer of the University to Madrid.
In 1977, the University of Alcalá is created and recovers and restores the ancient colleges in order to once again serve their purpose as educational and research centres.
Alcalá de Henares was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1998 in recognition of the fact that Alcalá was University City in the world.
Alcalá de Henares was also the birthplace and residence of Miguel de Cervantes, the most illustrious Spanish writer of all times. The IV Centenary of the Quixote publications, a novel which is considerated one of the world literary masterpieces, was celebrated in 2005, and the city of Alcalá de made a solemn tribute to Cervantes and his work.
Some cultural events take place in Alcalá de Henares every year.
Typical gastronomy of Alcalá de Henares include traditional Castilian cuisine like fried bread crumbs with spicy sausage and garlic soup. The most typical sweets are the costrada, cooked with meringue, cream and puff pastry; the sugared almonds and the donuts covered with honeyed orange sugar.
Alcalá is also famous One of the most interesting things to do in Alcalá de Henares is to try the huge variety of snacks or appetizers that many bars and restaurant offer together with drinks.
The most famous cultural events celebrated in Alcalá are Film Festival, Classic Theatre Festival, Cervantes week and Don Juan Tenorio performance, a classic and famous Spanish literary work.
You can find more information about the culture and tourism in Alcalá de Henares on the following websites: