Hospital de Antezana

Antezana Hospital

The Hospital of Nuestra Señora de la Misericordia, or Antezana, stands in the middle of the main street, in an area without arcades, on the site of the former palace of Don Luis de Antezana and Doña Isabel de Guzmán, which was donated in 1483 in a testamentary disposition to house the old Hospital of San Julián, founded for the poor, the sick, travelers and pilgrims, and which from then on took on its present name. It is still active today and houses a home for the elderly run by the hospital’s chapter, which is undoubtedly an exceptional case, with more than five hundred years of uninterrupted operation, making it one of the oldest in Western Europe. Its austere neo-Gothic façade, which was covered with plaster in the last century, stands out for its magnificent Mudejar eaves.

After crossing the corridor and a small courtyard, the ground floor has octagonal columns with wooden posts and a gallery supported by wooden corbels. On the upper floor there are posts with bases and between them a balustrade, all made of wood. It is one of the examples of popular architecture with more taste of all Alcalá, and by the enchantment and serenity that it exudes, it is a must visit. Next to the staircase we find the fountain “of St. Ignatius” and on the top floor the kitchen used by the saint during the time he attended to the patients of the hospital.

The church also dates from the 15th century, although it was renovated in 1702, when the original coffered ceiling was hidden by a false plaster vault. The high altar is crowned by a carving of the Virgin of Mercy -advocation of the hospital- in the Andalusian Baroque style, the work of Martínez Montañés or his circle. Equally interesting are two oil paintings representing Saint Joseph and Saint John, by Sebastián Herrera Barnuevo, and another of great proportions, located at the foot of the church, painted by Pedro Valpuesta in 1685, recalling different passages of the stay of Saint Ignatius of Loyola in Alcalá, explained in a long legend.

In front of the entrance door is the Baroque chapel of San Ignacio, built in the room that the saint occupied during his stay in this hospital, where he worked as a nurse. It is decorated with seventeenth-century frescoes on the dome and a canvas with the image of the Founder of the Society of Jesus on the altar, signed by Diego Gonzalez de la Vega in 1669.

The hospital is governed by a closed chapter of nine men, who have dedicated a room to the exhibition of the most important documents of the institution: wills of the founders, deeds, privileges, etc., as well as a Gothic carving of the Seated Virgin with Child, probably from the 13th century. Recent restorations have revealed the coffered ceilings of several rooms, decorated with paintings and coats of arms of the former owners.

It has been affirmed, without documentation, that Rodrigo de Cervantes, the father of Miguel de Cervantes, worked as a surgeon in this hospital, next to his house. What is certain is that the descendants of the Cervantes family were members of the hospital. In 1620, Don Lorenzo Hurtado de Santarem and his wife, Doña Isabel de Mendoza, granddaughter of María de Cervantes, sister of Rodrigo and aunt of Miguel de Cervantes, were admitted as members of the hospital.

Text in Spanish: Alcalá World Heritage Guide. Vicente Sánchez Moltó, chronicler of Alcalá de Henares.

Address: Calle Mayor, 46

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