Miguel de Cervantes' Madrid Walking Tour (Self Guided), Madrid

The name of the iconic Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes is closely associated with Madrid. The author is known for a number of works, but his 1605 novel Don Quixote de la Mancha is often held as the first modern novel.

Despite being regarded as one of the fathers of modern literature, very little is known about Cervantes' early life. Born in 1547, he had spent some of his young years in the Madrid suburb of Alcalá de Henares. Later, whilst in the capital, he combined writing with managing various governmental jobs. The current No. 2 Cervantes Street address is where the writer lived for a long time. It is commonly believed that he had written Don Quixote and Los Trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda at the site of present-day Alberto's Tavern.

Cervantes passed away in 1616 and was buried at the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians, now marked with a memorial plaque. Several other statues and monuments to Cervantes are found throughout the city, not to mention the entire Literary District. This area was home not only to Cervantes, but also to other luminaries like Lope de Vega.

If you care to follow in the footsteps of Don Quixote himself, chase some windmills and see Madrid through the eyes of the great writer, follow us on this Cervantes Walking Tour.
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Miguel de Cervantes' Madrid Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Miguel de Cervantes' Madrid Walking Tour
Guide Location: Spain » Madrid (See other walking tours in Madrid)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 5
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.2 Km or 0.7 Miles
Author: emily
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Plaza de Las Cortes (Cortes Square)
  • House of Cervantes
  • Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians
  • Casa Alberto (Alberto's Tavern)
  • Sociedad Cervantina (Cervantes Society)
1
Plaza de Las Cortes (Cortes Square)

1) Plaza de Las Cortes (Cortes Square)

Cortes Square is one of the large Madrid squares that lie along Calle del Prado and Carrera de San Jerónimo. The buildings around the square show off some of Madrid's best architecture—it seems everywhere you look, there's a beautiful neoclassical building with ornate details to admire.

The triangular-shaped square is home to a large statue of the famous Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes. The statue was erected in 1835 and was the first secular statue in Madrid that was not dedicated to royalty. In 2009 a time capsule was discovered in the statue's pedestal. It contained a well-preserved 1819 printing of Don Quixote and some other publications and artifacts. They are held at the Museo Arqueológico Regional in Alcalá de Henares, near where Cervantes was born in 1547.

Many of the details of his early life are up for debate, but it is known he and his family lived in Cordoba for many years before moving back to Madrid. Cervantes took a job working for a cardinal in Rome before he joined the Spanish military. He was wounded badly in the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, but he survived and was honored for his bravery. In 1575, Cervantes and his brother Rodrigo were captured by the Ottomans while they sailed on the galley Sol. They were held in Algiers for ransom, but his family could only afford to pay for Rodrigo's release. Cervantes remained in captivity until he was finally freed in 1580.

After his captivity, Cervantes held several government positions, including as an intelligence agent in Africa and as a tax collector in Seville. During this time, his most famous works were completed, including La Galatea in 1585. He moved back to Madrid for the remainder of his life, where he had published the first volume of Don Quixote in 1605, followed by the second ten years later.

Besides the statue, you'll notice that beautiful landmark buildings border the square. On the north side is the Palace of the Courts. This building is where the Congress of Deputies meets, which is the Lower House of Spain's legislature. Another prominent building is the Westin Palace Hotel. When it opened in 1912, it was the largest and most modern hotel in Europe, with over 400 rooms, telephones, and en suite toilets.
2
House of Cervantes

2) House of Cervantes

Cervantes lived at No. 2 Cervantes Street, but of course, the street wasn't called that back then. Then it was Francos Street, and it had interestingly enough been home to another great Spanish writer—Lope de Vega. The house is dedicated with plaques and a relief of Cervantes, but you cannot tour inside.

The owner of Cervantes' house wanted to tear it down and rebuild it in 1833. An article about Cervantes and the house appeared in Spain's literary newspaper of the day, and the issue quickly attracted the attention of King Fernando VII. The king attempted to purchase the property for the state and rehabilitate the structure, but the owner refused and continued with the demolition. The newer building has been dedicated to the author, and the street name was changed to commemorate the writer's stay there.

The house is located in Madrid's Literary Quarter, named for the talented artists that have enjoyed these pleasant streets before you. Huertas Street, the main street in Literary Quarter, has quotations from the most renowned Spanish writers written on the sidewalks. On Cervantes Street, you'll also find a house and museum dedicated to Lope de Vega. Cervantes passed away in the house in 1616, and he was buried at the nearby Convent of the Trinitarians.
3
Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians

3) Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians

The convent was founded in 1612 by Mrs. Francisca Romero Gaytan and is most well known as writer Miguel de Cervantes' final resting place. When it was built, the church was a very modest building.

In 1668, the original structure was demolished and replaced by the Baroque church you see today. The convent was added in 1718. The church is still simple, with a Latin cross floor plan and one nave. The alter is painted in the Baroque style. The convent has cloisters, a courtyard, and cells. While they both have been renovated several times, the facade remains unchanged.

Cervantes was buried in the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians according to his will. However, his remains went missing when they were moved during the rebuilding work at the convent in 1673 and the whereabout of his remains had remained a mystery for over 300 hundred years. In 2014, a project was launched to locate them.

In January 2015, the forensic anthropologists leading the search found several caskets containing bone fragments, and part of a board with the letters 'M.C.' written on it. Analysis shows that the injuries on some of the bone fragments matched the record of Cervantes' injuries suffered in the Battle of Lepanto. Scientists were able to confirm that the caskets belonged to Cervantes along with his wife and others. The caskets were formally reburied at Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians in a public ceremony in June 2015.
4
Casa Alberto (Alberto's Tavern)

4) Casa Alberto (Alberto's Tavern)

Founded in 1827, Casa Alberto has continuously operated in the same place ever since. Dedicated to traditional Madrilenian cuisine, the restaurant has been attracting the who's who in the city since it opened all those years ago. The spot has always been known for its tapas and alcoholic beverages.

In the mid-1800s, cafes and theaters became very popular in the city. Many people used to stop for a meal after visiting the Prado National Museum, which opened in 1819. The original proprietors, the Sanz, Pesquera, and De Dios families were from Segovia.

Casa Alberto operates in its original building, built around the time when it opened in 1827. It was built on the foundations of a 16th-century building that was once the writer Miguel de Cervantes' home. A commemorative plaque is on the wall of the restaurant. It is believed that Cervantes wrote Don Quixote and Los Trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda here.

The restaurant was remodeled to its current appearance in 1924. With its new posh decor, the restaurant quickly became a must-stop for locals and tourists alike. Theater actors, politicians, and the city elite have all dined here. As you would expect for such a historic establishment, the decor is full of functional antiques. The tin bar has a unique sink that was used to cool wine bottles and for washing glasses. Upstairs there are several memorabilia to Cervantes exhibited.
5
Sociedad Cervantina (Cervantes Society)

5) Sociedad Cervantina (Cervantes Society)

Founded in 1953 by Luis Astrana Marín, the Cervantes Society is dedicated to exploring and sharing the life and work of the 17th-century author. The Cervantes Chamber Theater is headquartered at the Society. They formed in 2008 and still perform Cervantes' plays while supporting local theater.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the Society, however, is its home building. The Society's headquarters is at the location of the printing press where the first editions of Cervante's Don Quixote were made in 1604. After the printing press went out of business a few decades later, the Carmen Hospital was built in its place.

In 2008, the Society recreated the original printing press as part of an art project. The replica can be toured by the public and is an eye-opening example of how times have changed.

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