Saturday, 13 April 2013

Alcalá de Henares

Alcalá de Henares is yet another UNESCO protected city famed for its university founded in 1499 - it became one of the foremost places of learning in 16th century Europe. Remember in my previous post that words beginning with 'al' (Alcalá de Henares) betray its arabic origins.
Its situation on the lowlands of the Henares river has attracted a large number of white storks which nest on the rooftops across the city. Alcalá de Henares architecture illustrates the lasting legacy of Spain's Golden Age between the 15th and 17th centuries.
The Archbishop's Palace
The home and then the statue of Catherine of Aragon
Statue of Don Quixote and his companion Sancho Panza sitting outside the house where Miguel de Cervantes was born. He was almost 60 years old when he wrote his masterpiece, and died on the same day as William Shakespeare.
The interior of the house had an inner courtyard reminiscent of houses I have seen both in Morocco and Herculaneum, the ancient Roman town destroyed by Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. If I was designing myself a house I would want to incorporate this idea into the design but would have a circular pool in the centre, surrounded by pretty gravel and then a circle of box topiary hedging.
Plaza de Cervantes
The facade of the most historic university college - Colegio de San Ildefonso 
Next stop Madrid and home.

74 comments:

  1. Wow! A beautiful post!

    Greetings from the Netherlands,
    DzjieDzjee

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    1. Thank you for your very generous comment and visit.

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  2. simply beautifully captured shots ...lovely!

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    1. That is very kind of you to say, and thank you for your visit.

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  3. Beautiful photos Rosemary of another city, one I have never heard of, yet the home of both Catherine of Aragon and Cervantes, two of Spain's most famous names. I love Catherine's statue, very girlish and sweet, and Don Quixote and Sancho look very fine on their park bench. What a great place to visit!

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    1. Dear Patricia - it was all new to me too - you would think that I would know that Catherine came from there but I didn't. In paintings I have seen of Catherine she looked a very sweet young girl which her stature resembles.
      It is true that travel does broaden the mind.

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  4. I love seeing and hearing about places that I didn't know existed! That first picture with the stork is just amazing.

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    1. I should imagine that there were at least 100 nests on the city roofs. They appear to erect a metal platform for them to build on rather than have the bundles of sticks just resting on the masonry, and possible damage. The storks kept gliding over us like children's kites with the sticks in their beaks.
      Shamefully I also admit to not knowing about the city before our visit.

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  5. Dear Rosemary, You have given us a most interesting and beautifully photographed travel log of a part of Spain most of us have not seen. You have also included just enough of Spain's history to pique our interest. It might be time to think about visiting Spain again.

    By the way Rosemary, did you receive the second book I sent?
    ox, Gina

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    1. Dear Gina - that is very remiss of me not to mention it - please accept my apologies - it came just as we were leaving the house on our trip otherwise I would have thanked you then. I am not sure which book you had intended to send but thank you for both of them very much.
      I am afraid that I have made rather a long journal out of the Spanish photos, but it was too difficult for me to précis them.
      It was all new to us, and we learnt such a great deal on the journey.

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    2. Dear Rosemary, It was the second book I thought you might like because it has pockets for collecting and pressing plant specimens. I am also glad that you liked the first book. Both books have found a good home and I am delighted. ox, Gina

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    3. Thank you Gina - I really appreciate your generosity and both will be well loved.

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  6. Not only is Alcalá de Henares beautiful, it looks so clean. I am also a huge fan of interior courtyards....from Chinese to Moroccan to European! Especially the ones with water features and greenery such as a specimen tree, shrubs and potted plants. A civilized and private oasis for the enjoyment of the family and invited guests.

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    1. I really like the idea of a secret world in the middle of the home open to only those that are living or visiting the property - the outside world could be forgotten for a time, an oasis of calm.
      Alcalá de Henares was lovely, clean, nicely laid out, and they had a really delicious ice-cream parlour too.

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    2. Is the ice cream similar to gelato?

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    3. Yes, with lots and lots of different flavours much like Italy.

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  7. Excellent photos, both in this and your previous posts on Spain which I've been enjoying. Makes me want to travel.

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    1. Thank you for your visit - glad you enjoyed the photos from Spain - a part of the country that was completely new to us, and which we found to be really interesting.

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  8. At last I have been able to call by for a lovely catch up of Where Five Valleys Meet, where I always find interesting posts, thoroughly enjoyed my virtual trip to Spain. Thankyou so much for your kind words and continuing support on my own blog, so much appreciated.

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    1. So lovely to hear from you Lindy and hope things are still continuing in the right direction for your husband. I had a look at the webcam on your blog and found it really interesting. Someone was hanging out the washing on their balcony - I wonder what they would have thought if they knew they were being viewed in another country?

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    2. Thanks for asking Rosemary, yes he is very very slowly making progress. It has been a shock to him to discover just what three months hospitalisation has done to him! Love that saw someone hanging out washing, isn't technology and blogging wonderful.

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    3. I understand what you mean - my husband spent 8 weeks in hospital and came home walking on a zimmer frame -it took a lot of hard work on his part to get his strength back again.

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  9. Beautiful vieuws out of Spain.
    Have a wonderful weekend Rosemary.

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    1. Thanks Marijke - this afternoon our weather has turned decidedly off - pouring with rain.

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  10. Hello Rosemary, This whole place has a strange air of unreality about it--it almost looks like it was created for tourists, and not centuries old. I agree with Loi's comment about its being very clean, but beyond that it seems so of-a-piece (perhaps over-restored?). My favorite detail in your photos was the stork's nest.
    --Road to Parnassus

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    1. The storks made me wish that they would travel over to our country and nest, they are lovely to see on the rooftops and flying around.

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  11. Enjoyed one more post about Spain , I'm a big voyageur so discovering places is always interesting and pleasant for me. I didn't know this town which likes charming and typically Spanish !
    Warm regards and nice Sunday Rosemary !

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    1. Thank you Olympia - I am not very good at getting everything into a couple of posts hence the long wander through Spain. I shall have to learn to précis my photos and words more.

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  12. Alcala de Henares is a beautiful twin to explore and walk around. I adore those Spanish buildings. So grand and historic. It is always fun to see those statues on the streets. The inner courtyard is a great design for the house as it not only aesthetically beautiful but also helps in the ventilation of air into the house. Your idea for the inner courtyard will be fabulous. I wonder what is inside the Colegio? Wonderful photos.

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    1. We didn't go into the college but I am sure it is very beautiful.
      There was much to commend Alcalá de Henares - its architecture, and a very pleasing ambience to wander around.
      It is quite near to Madrid but a world away.

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  13. Dear Rosemary,
    I am enjoying these posts about Spain and they have got AGA and I seriously thinking about a motoring holiday down that way. We shall see. Like Loi, I am a big fan of interior courtyards - a private retreat from the hustle and bustle of the exterior world, often just a few feet away!
    Your photos, as always, are lovely.
    Bye for now
    Kirk

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    1. Dear Kirk - all of this area was completely new to us and we learnt so much whilst we were there.
      We are fortunate in Europe that we have so many different locations to visit on our doorstep but which are like being a million miles away from our homes - the contrast can be so great.
      Glad you and AGA enjoyed seeing Spain.

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    1. Thank you - journeys end is nigh.

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  15. An interesting tour of this historical site. I have never visited this place before but did manage to visit Madrid, Barcelonia, Toledo and other nearby places. I love the cuisine there; tapas, paellas.

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    1. You have experienced a very good overview of Spain. It is difficult when you are visiting a country as large as Spain to see very much - it really requires several visits. There were places that we missed in the La Mancha region, but ....may be another time.

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  16. More great photos..love the statues. This trip must have been delightful. Enjoy the final stage...looking forward to some Madrid images.J.

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    1. The journey is all but over Janice - I can't believe that we have been home two weeks, where does the time fly to.

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  17. Then buildings are wonderful, very different to what we have hear but that is to be expected :)

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    1. The 15th, 16th and 17th architecture delights the eye.

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  18. A few great statues and gardens.

    Greetings,
    Filip

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    1. The statuary was very appealing.

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  19. Your travel logs are always so interesting - you've gone to so many places I didn't even know about! Thanks for sharing these beautiful photos.

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    1. I didn't even know about this place myself until a few weeks ago - glad you liked the photos.

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  20. I love all these pictures, especially that first picture with the stork and nest!!!! Hope you enjoy the rest of your trip!!!!
    ~Marica

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    1. Thanks Marica - the storks building their nests were fun to watch especially when they were flying around with huge sticks in their beaks.

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  21. What an impressive city this is! Those houses with inner courtyards look beautiful. They have a Moroccan/Arabic feel to it, which I like. The Arabic influence is clearly visible in the buildings. Hope you will have a good time in Madrid!

    Madelief x

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    1. Dear Madelief - I am really taken with the inner courtyards and would love to have one myself. An oasis of calm away from the outside world.

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  22. Olá!
    Gostei ,neste final de tarde de Domingo, de revisitar Alcalá de Henares.
    As tuas fotos estão óptimas e os textos informativos também.
    beijos.

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    1. Olá Maria - obrigado pelo seu comentário - Fico feliz que tenha gostado do post sobre a bela cidade de Alcalá de Henares

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  23. What a lovely sight the storks on the rooftops!

    I really like these inner courtyeards.
    I first remember them from Marquez's novels and from Khalo's house (on the film).
    I believe it to be a usual house feature in Mexico and Latin America.

    Impossible to have something like this in Norway of course
    but if I had a lots of money I would build one with a glass roof and pay somebody to take away the snow during winter...

    ... no not really
    If I had lots of money I would travel more frequently and for longer periods ;)

    lots of love

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    1. I wonder if the idea of the inner courtyards was taken to Mexico by the Spanish Conquistadors in the 1500s.
      I really regret that I didn't see the Freda Khalo film, hopefully an opportunity will arise at sometime in the future.
      This courtyard had actually been filled in with glass, but it is unusual for Spain to get snow in that area.
      Glass with heating elements in it would perhaps be the answer.
      I would love the storks to fly here and nest - they fly to Denmark from South Africa but come no further over this way.

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  24. Dear Rosemary,
    A wonderful post! The OH gave me the Cervantes book Don Quixote when we were dating - many, many years ago. Thank you ever so much for trying to assist with my Blog problem.
    June

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    1. Dear June - I am sorry that it did not work - I did the same with Val and it came OK. I think that was a rather lovely gift for the OH to give you.

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  25. The richness of the overlay of cultures is mesmerizing. One could probably spend a lifetime there and still not absorb everything.

    The storks reminded me of "The Wheel on the School" by Meindert DeJong. Our elementary school teacher read it to us on Friday afternoons before dismissal.

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    1. What a lovely memory the storks have reminded you of. The Wheel on the School is a charming book and what a nice ending to your school week. The people of Alcalá de Henares do the same thing to encourage the storks to nest on their roofs.
      We were only there for a day and a half and really it was not long enough.

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  26. Very beautiful post Rosemary!Wonderful pictures!!Spain is a lovely country to visit!Thank you for sharing!Have a lovely week!
    Dimi..

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    1. Thanks Dimi - we discovered so much that was new to us in this area of Spain - hope that you have a good week too and lots of warm weather.

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  27. I see the sightseers have their coats & scarves on!

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    1. Yes, it was by no means typical Spanish weather, but I think that those are locals.

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  28. Fantastic Post!! If you want to know more about Alcalá de Henares, visit us!! http://www.alcalanow.com

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    1. thank you - I am enjoying looking at your website on Alcalá de Henares.

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  29. A lovely tour, and interesting to learn something about places you never visited .

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    1. Thank you Jane - it was all new to us too, travel makes you realise how much there is to discover.

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  30. Very interesting post, Rosemary. I like learning new things and seeing places (in pictures)I've not seen before. I'm sure your trip was wonderful.

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    1. Thank you for your visit Sanda - each place we visited in Spain gave us so much interesting architecture and history to learn about.

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  31. Plaza de Cervantes is stunning. All the pictures are full of lovely Spanish atmosphere! Have a great week, Rosemary!

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    1. In the summer it must be a lovely place to congregate and I am sure that they must have music playing in the pretty bandstand.

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  32. Again, I'm enjoying the architecture, Rosemary! I'm with you on incorporating an atrium into the idealized house, though mine would include a fountain. I note that drainage is an important part of the inner courtyard.

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    1. Hello Mark - because the top is open to the elements, as you mention, drainage is important. However, if I have my pool and you have your fountain that will be OK, both of them require drainage to function properly.

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  33. Your Spanish trip must have marvellous, Rosemary, despite the unseasonable weather. Your photographs give such a vivid impression of the fascinating places you visited and I love your eye for architectural detail. :-)

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    1. Dear Perpetua - although we were away for a comparatively short time it is amazing how much you can visit and absorb when you don't have to buy food, cook meals, and do the general household tasks. We loved the area and it fulfilled our hopes - good architecture, art, history and interesting food.

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  34. Even as a Japanese, I know about the destiny of the wives of Henry VIII. The young Catharine of Aragon looks simple and neatly dressed unexpectedly. It’s interesting to know that Shakespeare and Cervantes passed away on the same day. I don’t know much about Spanish Literature and Cervantes is one of a few I know. You seem to have visited the most fascinating places in the right season: everything is captured so beautiful and attractive through your lens, rosemary. I enjoyed accompanying you through these series of posts including Madrid.

    Yoko

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  35. On all the paintings I have seen of Catherine of Aragon she looked a very pretty sweet girl so may be this statue does resemble her.
    Our journey was one long voyage of discovery from interesting landscapes, architecture, customs, history and art.

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