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Print page to PDF Alcalá de Henares

Name: Partnership agreement
Signing a contract: 14.07.2001
Population: Population: 186 000

Alcalá de Henares, one of the oldest cities in Spain, recently added to the UNESCO List of World Heritage, is situated 30 kilometres from Madrid.  The city has a very long university tradition. The origins of Alcalá University go back to the late 15th century when the Archbishop of Toledo, Francisco Ximénez de Cisneros, founded, as it was the case with other great academic centres of that epoch, Colegio Mayor, Colegio de San Ildefonso and 13 minor colleges. Then Colegio de San Filipe y Santiago and Colegio del Rey were established. The latter was founded thanks to an endowment from Philip II. Today Universidad Alcalá is a very dynamic research and didactic centre which educates thousands of students every year, including also foreigners who wish to learn the language, literature and culture of this country.   An important role in the city’s history was played by Miguel de Cervantes, the author of "El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha". The city’s central square is called Plaza de Cervantes. Visitors can also see the house – museum of Cervantes. The city has numerous tourist attractions, one can find there traces of Roman and Muslim culture, examples of various styles and epochs of European culture. It is also a modern city with well-developed chemical and pharmaceutical industries and the service sector.  Alcalá de Henares has a Polish community of more than 7 thousand who are integrated with the city’s life. It was at the initiative of the local Association of Poles in Spain “The White Eagle” that Lublin and Alcalá signed a sister-city agreement.

Interesting facts

Main attractions/sights:
University of Alcalá;
Cathedral of Santos Niños Justo y Pastor;
Plaza de Cervantes;
statue of Don Quijote and Sancho Panza;

Typical dishes:
costrada de Alcalá – a flaky puff pastry with sweet cream filling;
migas manchegas con chorizo – a traditional dish consisting of bread and pork sausage;
sopa de ajo – a garlic soup;

National sports:

Famous citizens:
Miguel de Cervantes – a Spanish novelist, poet, and playwright, author of Don Quixote;
Ferdinand I –  a Holy Roman Emperor, king of Bohemia, Hungary and Croatia;
Catherine of Aragon – Queen of England, the first wife of King Henry VIII;

Legends and festivals:
Saint Justus and Pastor – two young martyrs who were killed for their faith during the persecution of Christians by the Roman Emperor Diocletian;
every year on 23 April, the city of Alcalá hosts the ceremony awarding the Cervantes Prize, the Spanish-speaking world's most prestigious award for lifetime achievement in literature;

the name of the city, Alcalá, comes from Arabic and means fortification or citadel, while Henares is the river by which the city is situated;
Alcalá is well known for its population of white storks;
Alcalá is the city with the largest Polish population in Spain (around 4000 people).

Excmo. Ayuntamiento de Alcalá de Henares
Plaza de Cervantes n° 12
28 801 Alcalá de Henares
tel.: 00 34 91 888 33 00
fax: 00 34 91 8879528

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