"Alcala de Henares", Blog English, Country, Spain

Laredo Palace – Alcalá de Henares, Madrid

Heading towards the center of the city of Alcalá de Henares via the “Paseo de la Estación”, we observe a building that definitely does not go unnoticed; it is the Laredo Palace.

Don Manuel José Laredo y Ordoño had this mansion built between 1880 and 1884 as a private home. Although the design and the selection of the elements used in the structure are attributed to him, the architect of the work was Juan José de Urquijo. It should be noted that Manuel José Laredo y Ordoño is one of the most outstanding and charismatic characters of the 19th century in Alcalá de Henares. In addition to being mayor of this city between 1891 and 1893, he stood out as a painter, decorator, restorer and scenographer.

The Laredo Palace is the most characteristic and personal work of Don Manuel José Laredo y Ordoño. However, in 1895 he sold the property to his lender, the Swiss watchmaker and consul Carlos Eduardo Lardet Bovet, and went to live in Madrid, where he died the following year. In the years that followed, the property passed through many hands, until, in the eighties, after completing a restoration in 1988, the City Council ceded it to the University of Alcalá.

The Laredo Palace is of neo-Mudejar style, however, it incorporates Gothic, Renaissance and Modernist elements in its decoration. On the exterior, the large central tower and the minaret on the corner with a clock stand out, as well as the play of volumes that can be seen in the structure.

Inside there are fifteen original archaeological pieces transferred by the owner from buildings of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. There are rooms inspired by the Alhambra in Granada, and fresco paintings with Pompeian and Plateresque motifs. In addition, the coffered ceiling, plaster decorations and glazed ceramics stand out in the Laredo Palacete.

Many of these ornamental elements came from old buildings in Toledo, Jaén, Guadalajara or Alcalá, such as the ogival vault of the Salón de los Reyes, from the old fortress of Santorcaz.

The Hall of the Kings of the Laredo Palace is undoubtedly a very beautiful space. It is decorated with fresco paintings on its walls, the work of Laredo himself, representing different monarchs of the crown of Castile, from Alfonso X to Charles V, as well as Archbishop Pedro Tenorio.

On the ceiling there is a representation of the firmament as it was conceived in the Middle Ages. Today, this space serves as an assembly hall and conference room.

Although the Palacete Laredo belongs to the City Council of Alcalá de Henares, it is managed by the University of Alcalá. It is the seat of the Cisneriano Museum and  Research Center. It houses a collection of ancient documents of the University of Alcalá, including an original edition of the “Biblia Políglota Complutense”, and the “Biblia Políglota de Amberes”. It is also the headquarters of the “Institución de Estudios Complutenses”. In 1975 it was declared an Asset of Cultural Interest in the category of Monuments.