¿Alcalá de qué?

Plaza Cervantes

The Plaza Cervantes, for a relaxing cup of café con leche.


“¿Alcalá de qué?

¡De Henares!”

When my daughter, (sometimes known as Malassie and born and raised in Alcalá de Henares) was at primary school, she was taught a song dedicated to the glories of her city. The chorus included the lines above, roughly translatable as:

Which Alcalá?

Alcalá de Henares!

This was to make sure no-one mistook this World Heritage Site of ours for any other Alcalá, such as Alcalá de Guadaira, de Xivert or de los Gazules . The name Alcalá means fortification, from the Arabic al-qal’a (or for those of you who read Arabic, القلعة) and there were many of those during the Moorish conquest of the peninsula.

The late and great Rod Younger often suggested I write about Alcalá “since nobody´s exactly clear on why it´s a World Heritage Site.” And then recently, much to my chagrin, this illustrious SpainStruck site was described, by a severely undercultured person, obviously, as “drivel.”

So in order to do a little justice to our sadly missed Rod as well as counter such an unfounded, slanderous accusation, I am finally caving in grasping the glorious torch of cultural enlightenment and committing myself to a series of posts on this Ciudad Patrimonio de la Humanidad. 

We might still ask ourselves, however, which Alcalá?  There are other songs about the city and one from 1960 goes like this:

“Sobre la huella de antiguos estudiantes

que en otro tiempo rondaron la ciudad

hoy se pasean las chicas elegantes

igual de guapas que antes, que alegran Alcalá”.

This means “over the footsteps of students who, in older times wandered around the city, now elegant girls walk, just as pretty as before, brightening up Alcalá”.

You can just imagine what I think of that tuna tune. However, rapper Rayden comes to the rescue with the other side of the cultural coin:

“En esta zona cada vez más cara
Todo está en obras y las personas en bragas
Buscando sobras en largas colas que duran horas, semanas,
Para ver si cobran porque el paro se agota y se acaba.
Así es la cuna de Cervantes y Azaña;
Lo mismo que en todas partes del resto de España
Donde hay basura en la calzada, jeringuillas en los parques
Y aquí el inmigrante es “blanco” del nazi de caza”.

“In this ever more expensive area, everything´s under construction and the people haven´t a shoe to their foot. Looking for leftovers in long queues for hours, weeks, to see if they can get something since unemployment benefit is winding up. That´s your birthplace of Cervantes and Azaña for you, just like in the rest of Spain where there´s rubbish on the street, syringes in the parks and where immigrants are targets for hunting nazis.”

You can watch a video about Rayden here:

So, my posts will be something between this:


and this:


I´ve lived here for nearly 16 years and can say what I like about it.

Such as something that might approach the truth …..

Flying stork


  1. Love your stork Mo, we have plenty too and Alcala de Los Gazules is just up the road from me. You might just have inspired me to check it out!

    • Sorry to take so long to reply – blogging fatigue, really. I´d love to see you write something on those storks as I always find them incredibly fascinating.

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