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The Colegio del Rey is a singular building, home of the Cervantes Institute in Alcalá de Henares and located a few meters from the Santa María la Mayor Church.
The Colegio de San Felipe y Santiago, better known as the Colegio del Rey, was founded in 1551 under the reign and patronage of Phillip II as a school of the university for teaching theo-logical, legal and canonical studies, intended for the sons of the families in the service of the Royal Family.
Many famous people have passed through the doors of the Colegio del Rey: Ambrosio de Morales (Córdoba, 1513 – 1591), historian and humanist; Antonio Pérez (Valdeconcha, Guadalajara, 1540 – París, 1611), Secretary of State under Felipe II; and Francisco de Quevedo (Madrid, 1580 – Villanueva de los Infantes, Ciudad Real, 1645), one the most outstanding authors in Spanish literature.
Beginning in 1609, the current building was rebuilt on top of the old building, of which nothing remains. Although some sources cite Juan de Herrera as the possible author, the building was constructed under the direction of Juan Gómez de Mora (Cuenca, 1586 – Madrid, 1648], architect of the Plaza Mayor and the Casa de la Villa ¡n Madrid.
The portal of the building was constructed in granite with Doric pilasters in the lower body and lonion pilasters in the upper. It includes the coat of arms from the Casa de los Austrias and the inscription: «Phillip III, very Christian King of the Spains,» as the facade was completed under his reign.
The central Renaissance patio, work of José Sopeña and completed in 1696, is comprised of two floors. The lower floor is a gallery of segmental arches over Tuscan columns and the upper floor has smooth walls and balconies with lintels.
The Colegio existed as such until its move to Madrid in 1836. In 1842 it was sold to an individual. In 1882 it was once again in the hands of the State and was named the Casa de Correos and Telégrafos. Later, the Casado family undertook extensive restoration to convert it into their home. They demolished part of the chapel leaving only the transept with the cupola, which became the current ceremonial staircase.
In the 1980’s, the Alcalá de Henares city government acquired the building. They restored it in 1989 and installed the Fundación del Colegio del Rey, the Fundación Pública de Cultura and the historical documents of the Archivo Municipal.
In 1991 it was transferred to the Instituto Cervantes, public entity created that year to promote the Spanish language and extend its culture. Since then, the Instituto Cervantes has been an essential tool in teaching Spanish and the other languages of Spain, for spreading Spanish culture in all of its breadth and diver-síty, and for the attention paid to the common cultural heritage of all of the Spanish-speaking community.
At this time the Colegio del Rey hosts the Places of Inspiration exhibition, which shows works by Eduardo Chillida, Miquel Barceló, Eduardo Arroyo, Greg Wyatt and others. Admission is free. More information and pictures.
- Instituto Cervantes
- Calle Libreros 23, Alcalá de Henares (street view)
- From Tuesday to Saturday: 11 am to 2 pm and 5 pm to 8 pm.
- Sundays and holidays: 11 am to 2 pm.
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