The history of the “Colegio Máximo de Jesuitas” in Alcalá de Henares is rightly regarded as part of the history of the University itself, which was founded by Cardinal Cisneros in the fifteenth century. It was the most important University of Renaissance times, which spread its legacy throughout Europe and to the entire Hispanic World, "a modo de Alcalá" (in the way of Alcalá).
According to Esteban Azaña’s description of this foundation, Francisco de Villanueva was encouraged by King Felipe II to a college for the Company of Jesus in Alcalá de Henares. The first Jesuits came to the house, close to the church of Los Doctrinos, in 1546, and remained there until 1549, when they moved to the house in calle Libreros, a building comprising a great college and a church of great proportions.
This building is one of the most unusual in the old city of Alcalá de Henares. For centuries, it was one of the leading colleges for Jesuits in Spain, where Ignatius Loyola had been a student.
The construction of the church began in 1602 and it was completed in 1619. Its façade, falling between the Renaissance (Herrerian) and Baroque styles, is reminiscent of the "Gesù" church in Rome.
The college, which was built afterwards, is a sober construction of bricks on three floors and with two courtyards. The architect Ventura Rodríguez refurbished the building before the University moved here in 1780. In the twentieth century, after it had been used as military barracks, restoration work began in 1990.
Taken from: Ignacio Ruiz Rodríguez, Senior lecturer in the History of Law