ALCALÁ DE HENARES, a little over 30km east from Madrid, is one of Europe’s most ancient university towns, and renowned as the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes. In the sixteenth century the university was a rival to Salamanca’s, but in 1836 the faculties moved to Madrid and the town went into decline. Almost all the artistic heritage was lost in the Civil War and nowadays it’s virtually a suburb of Madrid. It is not somewhere you’d want to stay longer than it takes to see the sights.

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