Complutense University of Madrid (Universidad Complutense de Madrid)

University Information, Campus and History
(Madrid, Spain)

The Complutense University of Madrid (Universidad Complutense de Madrid in Spanish) is located in the university district of Monocloa, which is a 15-minute drive away from the shopping centres of Madrid. It has several annexes in the nearby town of Somosaguas. It is one of the oldest universities in the world, carrying over 500 years of teaching and learning expertise. The university is publicly owned by the Spanish state and is the largest public university in Spain. The university campus is over 36,000 acres / 14,568 hectares, with 640,000 square metres / 765,433 square yards of forest and 375,000 square metres / 448,496 square yards of gardens.

It is one of the most prestigious universities in Europe, and is ranked among the top 100 European universities. It is ranked by El Mundo as the top university in Spain, with its schools of Spanish Literature, Philosophy, Pharmacy, History, Journalism, Optometry, Sociology, and Psychology holding the top ranks.

The history of The Complutense University of Madrid dates back to the Middle Ages at the time when the Studium Generale was created by King Sancho IV of Castile in 1293. The Studium Generale was converted into a full-blown university in 1499 upon the request of Pope Alexander VI. It was renamed the Universitas Complutensis, echoing the original location of the university in Alcala de Henares (Complutum in Latin).

The university expanded and thrived in the 16th century with the creation of five faculties: Canon Law, Arts and Philosophy, Theology, Medicine and Philology. Together with its benefactor, the Archbishop of Toledo Cisneros, the university gathered the leading biblical scholars and linguists in Alcala to produce the Complutensian Polyglot Bible (Biblia Políglota Complutense in Spanish). This bible was a compilation of all the original Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek biblical texts and it was published in 1517 in five volumes. This work became one of the greatest philological works of the Renaissance period which made the university one of the best universities in the world.

The university was moved to Madrid and became known as the Universidad Central de Madrid in 1836. During the Siege of Madrid, the campus was used as a primary front and was bombed by the Nationalist forces of Franco in the Spanish Civil War. Because of this tragedy, the university lost most of its original structures and Renaissance manuscripts. This started the university's active involvement in the Spanish political development which lasted unitl the 1970s when the university reverted to its original name, Complutense University of Madrid.

The Complutense University of Madrid is a member of the Europeum and has over 130,000 students, 4,000 of which are international students. With over 6,000 teaching staff members, the university offers 80 majors, 230 degrees, and 221 doctorate programmes. It has 30 libraries that house a collection of two million printed works, 90,000 historical documents, and an extensive European film archive are. The university offers an extensive Spanish course for international students. Its Spanish courses were founded over 15 years ago and they are one of the university's notable programmes. A standard Spanish course takes three semesters to finish, which is the equivalent of a full university year. The other Spanish course options are a six-week course or a short summer course. International students can choose to take short course or long-term ones, depending on how much of the intricacies of the language they want to learn. They are advised to have at least a basic knowledge of Spanish before enrolling.

The university has four other full-time schools outside Spain, and they are: the Real Colegio Complutense de Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts; the Collège des Hautes Études Européennes Miguel Servet in Paris, France; the Cátedra Complutense en la Universidad de Karlova in Prague, Czech Republic; and the Cátedra Dubcek in Bratislava, Slovakia.

The main port of entry into Madrid for many will be the Madrid Barajas International Airport (MAD). Cheap flights to Madrid are easy to find, especially with the academic year starting during an off peak period. From the airport it is a short 25 minute drive to the Complutense University of Madrid campus, so this leaves the option open to take either a bus or a taxi to your destination. However, with over 4000 international students starting at the University each year it may be worthwhile looking at hotels in Madrid so you can arrive a day or two before the majority. Failing that you could look at airport transfer services that will take customers flight numbers and monitor the specific flights to Madrid to ensure they are ready and waiting for you upon your arrival.


The Complutense University of Madrid has a variety of facilities for its local and international students. It has a Center for European Documentation and a few specialist institutes that specialize in a wide range of subjects like:
  • Applied Magnetism
  • Environmental Sciences
  • Embryology
  • Forensic Anatomy
  • Educational Sciences
  • Astronomy and Geodesy
  • Modern Languages and Translation
  • Criminology
  • Human Rights
  • Statistics and Operations Research
  • Comparative Law
  • Drug Dependence
  • Human Resources
  • Meat Science and Technology
  • Radio
  • Industrial Pharmacy
  • Feminist Research.

The university also has seven teaching hospitals and 11 university museums:
  • Reverte Coma Museum of Forensic, Paleopathological, and Criminalistic Anthropology
  • Museum of Pharmaceutical History
  • Museum of Anatomy
  • Textile and Tapestry Museum
  • Astronomy Museum and Planetarium
  • Museum of Dentistry
  • Archaeological and Ethnological Museum of the Americas
  • Museum of Anatomical Zoology
  • Museum of Juvenile Art and Education
  • Museum of Educational History
  • García Santesmases Museum of Information Sciences

The Complutense University of Madrid's University library contains a vast collection of 40,000 journals and 2.2 million volumes. The library also houses 300 computer terminals for student use. The School of Communication operates a radio station called Radio Complutense, which can be heard 12 hours each day.

To accommodate students who want to live in the campus, the university has a selection of registered residences located along the edges of the campus in nearby neighborhoods. Being a public university, residences need to be affiliated with Complutense, and this is why most university students live independently outside in dormitories and apartments.

The university also supports the student body's political involvement by having an active student government. Student groups can put up an office on campus grounds provided they have secured a permit from the school through a petition. Students can also join non-political student groups like sports and social events groups. The sports groups encourage all students to be involved in various sports like aerobics, swimming, diving, tai-chi, yoga, soccer, volleyball, basketball, squash, and other physical activities.

Complutense University offers a selection of student residences and apartments, while some students choose to stay off-campus, with local Spanish families. Those visiting the capital for short periods will be rather overwhelmed by the sheer choice of accommodation, with reliable hotels standing in districts such as Atocha, Centro, Huertas, Los Austrias and Sol. Madrid apartment rentals are also in good supply, together with youth hostels (albergue) and guest houses (pensiones).

Famous Students

The university has seen its graduates excel in different professional fields like politics, science, and literature. Some of its famous students are politician Americo Castro Quesada, former NATO Secretary General Javier Solana, classical writer Francisco de Quevedo, Spanish playwright Felix Lope de Vega, and 1989 Nobel Prize in Literature winner Camilo Jose Cela. Princess Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano of Asturia, Archbishop of Valencia Tomas de Villanueva, 1959 Nobel Prize in Medicine Severo Ochoa, and actor Santiago Segura are also a few of the university's noteworthy students.


Tourism in the capital is an important part of the city's economy, and each year tourists arrive in their droves to soak up the atmosphere and see the famous sights, which include the Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Alumudena (Alumudena Cathedral), the Fuente de Neptuno (Neptune's Fountain), Pthe alacio Real (Royal Palace) and the Puerta de Alcalá (Alcalá Gate). Those planning holidays in Spain will find that Madrid is certainly the capital of culture, with many of the country's principal museums being located here, such as the Museo de América (America Museum), the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (National Natural History Museum) and the Museo del Prado (Prado Museum), amongst many others.

Interested international applicants can enquire by calling 91-3 94 69 20 to 21. Inquiries can also be sent by facsimile through 91-3 94 69 24. International applicants can also send inquiries through email at Through these contact information, interested applicants can ask questions regarding admission requirements, course offerings, special examinations, and accommodation options.

Contact Complutense University of Madrid (Universidad Complutense de Madrid):
Address: Ciudad Universitaria, Madrid, 28040, Spain
Tel: +34 (0)91 452 04 00
Fax: +34 (0)91 394 34 97
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