Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Alcalá de Herares

Alcalá de Herares is one of the lesser known (for tourists outside of Spain) day trips that you can take from Madrid. I had never been, which is a shame, because really it was very close. It is just NorthEast of the city. We got there in about an hour, and you can also get there in about an hour from the center of Madrid using the Cercanías (regional trains).

We went this weekend with some friends to see the town and also to go to the Museo Archqueológico Regional (English information link here). They have an special exhibit "La Cuna de la Humanidad" (the footprint of humanity) which has only before been seen in Africa.

Special exhibit 

I feel like I should make the disclaimer that the museum's regular collection is only in Spanish. Since this is only a regional museum it is only about the history in what is now the providence or "Ayuntammiento" of Madrid. However the exhibits are thoughtful out together and even starts with a rather impressive Imax-eske video dating back 460,000,000 years ago to present. I had no idea that a once the "safari" animals called Spain home too!

A relic of Roman occupation, Achilles defeating the Amazonian Queen  

As for the Special exhibit it was very cool to see a copy of "Lucy" and alsoof footprints of our early ancestors. It also went into great detail on the Leaky family and their contribution to our understanding of evolution.


I always look for  textile paraphernalia in museums. These are "fusayolas" which mean spindle whorls in Spanish. I have more pictures of more whorls from this museum, but that might get it's own post. If they are like other spindles I have seen here in Spain, they probably had a carved shaft, about 25-30cm long, with a spiral leading to a point at one end to encourage the fiber to rotate off the point. However there was no information here.

The absolute best thing about this museum (or my favorite, anyway) was the tiny gift shop. Now, I have been to many museums and they are usually filled with t-shirts, postcards and books, not that those things are bad, but this museum had replicas and kits! Look I got a spindle whorl replica and a cave painting kit (complete with dye stuff, background stone and your own stick brush with hair at one end). I love this kind of thing. These alone made my whole day.

Across the street from the museum is the Archbishop's palace, which was very photogenic. 

Catalina de Aragón

We also saw the house were Cervantes was born Spanish linkEnglish link. That house had two spinning wheels and an old fashioned bobbin winder! Unfortunately taking photos was not allowed inside.

Image taken from the museum's website.

The beautiful Cervantes plaza already has huge roses blooming, and was surrounded by beautiful views in all directions.

I am fascinated by the herons and their huge nests/obsession for church towers.

Even the side streets are cute here.

The old mosque, still very picturesque.

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