Bronze sculptures of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza chatting
on a stone bench let you know you have arrived at the supposed birthplace of Spain’s greatest writer. Their knees are
polished by the hands of all the visitors who have posed for photographs with them. Miguel de Cervantes was born in
Alcalá in 1547 and lived here only briefly as an infant. In the 1940s, scholarly research suggested that this handsome
house may have been his family home, and the city moved quickly to reconstruct it as a museum, done in the same folk-
museum style you’ll see all over Spain, following the model of the equally tenuous Museo del Greco in Toledo.

It is nonetheless an interesting and enjoyable look at the life of a comfortably off family in 16th- and 17th-century
Spain. Cervantes’ father was a barber-surgeon, and you can see a period barber’s chair and a brass basin of the kind
Don Quijote famously insisted was an enchanted helmet. A small museum upstairs displays Cervantes’ great book in
various editions and languages. (See “In Search of Don Quijote,”.)