Jewish Heritage in Spain and Portugal

Alcalá de Henares

City Profile Alcalá, Spain

“Complutum” to the Romans, Alcalá was the birthplace of Don Quixote author Miguel de Cervantes (said to be of Jewish descent). It was the first city to be designed and built solely as the seat of a university, which was to serve as the model for other centers of learning in Europe and America and is still in use. Alcala’s Hospital de Antezana, now used as a home for the aged, is the oldest functioning hospital in Europe. It was founded in 1483 as a charity hospital, and Rodrigo de Cervantes, Miguel’s father, worked here as a surgeon.

During the Middle Ages, Christians, Jews and Muslims lived here together. Alcalá was named a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1998.