The Laredo’s Palace was set up in 1882, in the walk between the rail station and the city center (the current Paseo de la Estación), by the architect, restorer and painter Manuel Laredo. Laredo was also member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando, and a few years later, Alcalá’s mayor. The small palace was his family house, though today it belongs to the City Council and holds the Cisnerian Museum of the University, dedicated to its founder Cisneros Cardinal.
A Universal Artwork
The main characteristic of Laredo’s Palace is the great visual impact its contemplation produces. Thanks to its small dimensions, just one glance is enough to appreciate the great quantity of beauty and striking details, as if it was a miniature, or what it exactly is, an artwork itself. The architect himself decorated and beautified every single corner of the building, both the inside and outside of the hotel—as it is also named after the sense of single-family house—since you set foot in the entrance.
Every element in Laredo’s Palace was designed and carried out by Manuel Laredo himself, an incredible work worthy to emphasize and the reason why the building is called a universal artwork—both planimetry and interior ornamentation come from his ideas and wide creative capacities as painter, decorator, architect and restorer.
The author constructed his small palace in a state of cultural flux in Alcalá, exactly in the moment in which the Condueños Society—made up by Alcalá’s elite and every social class citizens—bought the main university college with the only aim of preserve the city heritage from destruction.
Numerous texts dedicated to the city were published by its more learned neighbors and many newspapers names were born—such as La Cuna de Cervantes or La Gaceta Complutense—within this period.
Likewise, in those years, many buildings and monuments now present in the core of the city were set up. Plaza de Cervantes provides a perfect example of it with its Cervantes’ statue and its bandstand, and surrounded by the Casino or Círculo de Contribuyentes, or by the Agonizantes convent project, used today as City Council.
Thus, we should not forget that Manuel Laredo carried out and run almost every restoration undertaken into the Archbishop’s Palace, leaving his trace, for instance, into the viewpoint on one side of the turret dedicated to the Tenorio Archbishop.
From surprise to surprise
Since the moment you get into Laredo’s Palace, you go from surprise to surprise, caused by the mixture between the Neo-Mudéjar style and the Alhambra significant influences (Granada) that you will find in different pieces of the construction inside and outside.
From the street, the most striking parts of Laredo’s Palace are the viewpoint, with its small clock at the top, and the central square turret. When you get inside, you will meet the Salón de los Reyes, denominated itself this way because the presence of Castilian Kings and Queens oil portraits since Alfonso XI until the emperor Charles I.
The monarchs hall that exactly copies the old castle Santorcaz great hall, constructed by Tenorio Archbishop, who is also present into the hall through his portrait, as well as Cisneros—who, curiously, was in that castle as a prisoner during a while because of the struggles in that period.
The Gothic dome original from Laredo’s Palace remains in good conditions and shows one of the world’s oldest planetarium—from the fourteenth century—that symbolizes a starry firmament as it was believed then to be. The planetarium has a circumference representing the 365 days of the year, its months and the astrological signs.
Surrounding Sala de los Reyes, there is another hall where you will find a plaster in Pompeian style—as well as in the daughter’s room, in the first floor—and Renaissance style tapestry.
Palaces and castles fragments
Another relevant detail of Laredo’s Palace—one among countless that surprise us in every corner of the corridors and doors—is the presence of the Sala del Espejo, decorated in green, where there is a covered balcony whose roof is supported upon columns that belonged to the Jesuit Loranca de Tajuña Convent in Guadalajara, today completely demolished.
Among Laredo’s Palace magnificence, you can appreciate the Arabian hall, with exquisite decoration and a glazed tile plinth from fifteenth century —before placed in the palace of Peter I the Cruel, in Jaén—or coffered ceiling and domes—from the Tendilla Earls palace, in Guadalajara. The sixteenth-century coffered ceiling—or alfarje—was also obtained from the same capital city of Guadalajara, from Don Antonio de Mendoza’s Palace.
The Laredo’s bedroom it is found under the Laredo’s Palace minaret, in which it stands out a viewpoint with a lattice window with an embrasure and a sixteenth-century glazed tile from Zaragoza. The building inside has a labyrinth touch, in a way that visiting the construction means to go up and down little stairs, entresols, corridors, halls that communicated each other in different ways and even some tunnels that connect with the basement and its rooms such as the laundry , the old kitchen—well included—, or the surprisingly large boiler room.
The laberinth garden
Round the Laredo’s Palace, one of the few remaining Romantic style gardens of Alcalá is preserved. Nowadays, the garden just takes up a tenth part of its original land, currently used as housing building.
There is a reservoir in the garden, a little pond with a bridge upon it and, at the bottom, one of the three iron harbors preserved in Alcalá. Some archeological remains are also founded in the garden, like a tombstone, some pieces from Roman columns and two big Visigoth sarcophagus sculpted in granite.
Finally, in its way out, or before entering, do not forget to admire the Laredo’s Palace surroundings: the adjacent street, calle Zuloaga, where you will find many wonderful elements to attentively contemplate such as archs, turrets, lattices, small windows, balconies, carriage’s entrance with its horseshoe arch…
- Address: Paseo de la Estación 10
- Guided visits for groups at different timetables, prior reservation by phone or email
- Telephone: +34 918 802 883
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ticket price: 3 €, (students 2€)
- Renfe Cercanías railroads C-1, C-2 and C7A.
- Bus nº 223 (departure from Avenida de América Interchanger).
- Regular city bus nº 5 and 10
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