Alcalá de Henares, Spain
June 20, 2021
My two favorite parts of every city are the museums and the hiking. Alcalá de Henares (and Madrid) have both in spades. The three biggest art museums in Madrid are the Reina Sofia museum, the Thyssen Museum, and the Prado Museum. When in Madrid, I would recommend going through all three. While many of the museums have restrictions against taking pictures in certain wings or exhibits, much of the Reina Sofia can be photographed. One of the most famous paintings in the Reina Sofia museum is the painting I’ve included in this post, which is the Woman in the Window painting by Salvador Dali, one of the only paintings of his we have that are not just absolutely absurd. A number of his sketches for his most famous works (such as Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening, and The Elephants) were in exhibits in the Reina Sofia, although we weren’t allowed to take pictures, and the completed paintings are in the Dali museum in Figueres, Spain. The Prado museum is truly remarkable. Mostly made up of historical art (primarily Velasquez, Goya and El Greco), the museum is full of pieces that are astoundingly large and use color to become strikingly three dimensional. The Thyssen museum mostly does exhibits, and the Georgia O’Keefe exhibit was interesting, but didn’t really compare to the awe of Picasso’s Guernica or the breathtaking beauty of Velasquez’s Las Lanzas.
Today, I went on a major hike in the south of Alcalá de Henares. I went nearly 12 miles in just under 3.5 hours, and got to see some truly incredible sites. Attached is a picture I took at the highest peak in the area, Ecce-Homo, which is well over 1400 ft above the surrounding hillside. What you can’t see in the photo (and is the thing that I’m pointing to) is a stork’s nest with some eggs in it, and the city of Alcalá de Henares stretches out behind the hillsides! It was a great hike with some pretty incredible sights that took me through a number of the distinct biomes we have been discussing in my Civilization and Culture class. Getting to see first-hand the different forest types in the plateau region of Spain that we had learned about in class was a really cool moment, and helped reinforce some of the classroom teaching. Overall, I’m having a great time, and wish that I could be here longer!