For thousands of years, Spain has been at the crossroads where diverse cultures and civilizations have met. Basques, Romans, Visigoths, Arabs, and many other peoples have found a home on the Iberian Peninsula. For the last five centuries, the history of Spain has been marked by an ambitious attempt to forge diverse ethnic and linguistic groups into a single, unified nation but Spain remains an intricate mosaic of cultures. We will explore something of Spain’s heritage as we walk the medieval streets of Toledo, take in the beauty of Córdoba’s mosque, and contemplate the engineering marvels of Segovia’s Roman aqueduct and Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum. We will study the works of artists such as Velázquez, Goya, Picasso, and Dalí. And we will walk in the footsteps of Spain’s greatest authors, Cervantes, Galdós, and Unamuno, and see the places that inspired their works.
The program is based in Alcalá de Henares, a city of 200,000 inhabitants, which is a thirty-five-minute train ride from Madrid. Students tend to find Alcalá a safe and inviting city in which to live and study, yet close enough to Madrid that they can become intimately familiar with some of the city’s incredible landmarks, including the Prado Museum, the Parque del Buen Retiro, and the Puerta del Sol. Alcalá is home to one of the oldest universities in all of Europe and was the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes. In 1998 it was named a UNESCO World Heritage site.