Thursday, November 19, 2009

The house where Cervantes was born

As an adult, Cervantes suffers constant money troubles, but his parents had lived well.

[Don Quixote recites a passage from Chapter II of a book about him as we sit in front of Cervantes' Birthplace-Museum: "Happy the age, happy the century, when my deeds of fame shall be brought to light, worthy to be molded in brass, carved in marble, painted on canvas, to be remembered in the future." Photo by Jerry Finn.]


Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra wrote one of Spain's approximately 100 medieval and Renaissance novels of chivalry — and that single work eclipsed the rest of his opus, the rest of the genre, and possibly the rest of entire literary output of Spain, which is considerable.

So, of course, everything that Cervantes did has evoked tremendous interest, including being born. The exact date isn't known, but the place is: Calle Mayor (Main Street) 48, in Alcalá de Henares, a city near Madrid. He was baptized in Santa María Church nearby on October 9, 1547. His family left for Valladolid in 1551.

The house has been restored to its original appearance and has become Alcalá's most popular tourist attraction. Actually, it's a pretty ordinary house for a well-to-do family of the time, which is to say, it's nice.

Visitors get an excellent booklet to explain the house and its furnishings, and the staff can answer any question. However, the website is so outstanding that going there is almost better than a live visit, except that if you visited in person, you'd be in Spain, and what could compete with that?

The site is in both English:
and Spanish:

You will notice a book open and displayed on a stand in the Estrado, or Ladies' Parlor. Although you can't read the title in the photos, I took a close look when I was there, and it's Amadís de Gaula.

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