Though Alcalá de Henares is a small town, there´s always plenty to do and see. One of its jewels is the wonderful Regional Archaeological Museum, the Museo Arqueológico Regional (MAR) which, as the name suggests, serves not only the city but the region, the Comunidad de Madrid.
Located in the lovely Plaza de las Bernardas, a two-minute walk from the town´s colonnaded Calle Mayor, this airy, historical building is the perfect place to be at any time, but on a Sunday morning it´s an absolute delight.
Large enough to be comprehensive, but compact enough to be doable, the MAR positively beckons alcalaínos and tourists alike to take a leisurely stroll through its top-notch installations and well-stocked shop before a couple of tapas in the Casco Viejo.
And the morning won´t break the bank since, like the tapas, the museum visit is free!
Like most museums it has both a permanent collection as well as temporary exhibitions. To its display of archaeological remains from the earliest times in the Madrid area right up to the Royal Court´s move to its present location, are added, to my mind, some of the best and most-varied events of interest to everybody (and not just archaeology buffs like myself).
In terms of language, while the permanent collection and the website are disappointingly only in Spanish, the temporary exhibitions are often in a number of languages, particularly English.
As a family we´ve gone along to see many exhibitions at the MAR, though my favourite was about the Neolithic, alpine Otzi – El hombre que vino del frío. Also interesting was El Tesoro Arqueológico de la Hispanic Society of America.
The MAR is something of a workhorse since, besides its collections, it also plays host to prominent speakers – such as my hero, Atapuerca archaeologist, Juan Luis Arsuaga – childrens´workshops, conservation and guided visits, not to mention participation in excavations.
Currently running is an exhibition on the Iron Age, Celtiberian tribe, the Carpetani.
I´ll be there tomorrow morning.
The museum is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m, Sundays and holidays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Happy International Museums Day!
And P.S. la mar de cosas means “lots”.