Literature has a quarter in Madrid
The Literary Quarter (Barrio de Las Letras) was home and meeting place for the leading authors of the Spanish Golden Age. Calle de Cervantes 2 is where the writer lived and died. He also lived at 18 Calle Huertas, in the building that now houses the renowned restaurant Casa Alberto.
He was born in Alcalá de Henares (Madrid, Spain) in 1547, although Alcázar de San Juan (Ciudad Real) also lays claim to being his birthplace. In the Old Town of Alcalá, you will find the Cervantes Birthplace Museum, which has a second edition copy of El Quijote, in Spanish, printed in 1605. The Cervantes Train departs from Atocha, the main train station in Madrid. Its destination is Alcalá and the essence of Cervantes accompanies you during the journey: actors in 17th-century dress perform fragments of his works. The local council has produced an activities programme to commemorate the fourth centenary of the writer’s death: exhibitions, concerts, theatre, dance and cinema. They want Cervantes, who wrote more than 30 works, to be known for more than the gentleman of weathered complexion “his flesh scrawny, his face gaunt”, who brought him universal acclaim and almost managed to eclipse him.
“Somewhere in La Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember…” is the most repeated phrase from Spanish literature. And there are several places in La Mancha that want to attribute themselves with the honour. Villanueva de los Infantes (Ciudad Real) is the one with the most points, as confirmed by researchers, who analysed the routes and times of Don Quixote for ten years. It may also be Argamasilla de Alba. His desire not to remember the name makes sense: he was held prisoner there at Medrano cave, supposedly for collecting taxes outside his jurisdiction.