Campus Universidad Complutense

The rectory building of Madrid's Complutense University

The Complutense University of Madrid (Universidad Complutense de Madrid, or UCM), known affectionately as La Complu, is among the oldest of the world's universities. It is the most important public university in Spain occupying all of the district of Ciudad Universitaria as well as Somosaguas district. The sprawling campus complex employs a staff of 9,731 and looks after more than 61,500 undergraduate students, as well as almost 30,000 postgraduate students. Some 5,000 of these are foreign students, both full-time studying and visiting.

The university enjoys top national ranking for its Schools of Philosophy, History, Psychology, Sociology, Spanish Literature, Optometry, Journalism, and Pharmacy. It is also associated with the Spanish Royal Society of Physics as well as Mathematics. Its motto is, "Libertas Perfundet Omnia Luce," which roughly translated means, "Freedom Spreads The Light Over Everyone."

Lodging near Madrid's Complutense University

Campus Universidad Complutense de Madrid claims an unbroken and continuous descent from the advanced school of Studium Generale created by King Sancho IV of Castile on May 20th 1293. The Studium Generale was located in Alcalá de Henares, which lies about 22 miles to the east of Madrid.

In 1499, a former pupil of the Studium Generale, Cardinal Cisneros, requested of Pope Alexander VI that the institution be made into a full university. His request was granted, and it was renamed in the Papal Bull to Universitas Complutensis. Complutum was the Latin name of Alcal?de Henares where the new university was located.

Cardinal Cisneros, who became Archbishop of Toledo, was the new university's greatest benefactor. His determined efforts attracted linguists and biblical scholars from all over the world to help produce the massive project of the Biblia PolĂ­glota Complutense. This five-volume edition included all the accepted books of the Bible in a range of languages; the original Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic, and also the authorised Vulgate Latin version.

This single huge project still today ranks as one of the greatest Spanish scholarly accomplishments. It also placed the budding Universitas Complutensis at the very forefront of the world's great universities, and made serious scholars everywhere look to Spain with renewed respect.

The university didn't move to Madrid until 1836. It occupied building along Calle San Bernardo, which are still in use today as government buildings, and it took on the name of Universidad Central de Madrid.

King Alfonso XIII surprised everyone by celebrating his Silver Jubilee with the announcement that he had the dream of seeing a new university built in Madrid. On May 7th, 1927, Alfonso XIII ceded royal lands near the Palace of La Moncloa. The project was largely funded by a public lottery, rather than by government funding as the King wished the university to be for the nation and not controlled by the government in any way.

King Alfonso XIII was deposed in 1931 and exiled in Rome. He failed to see his great wish come true when in 1933 on January 15th, Manuel Azaña, President of the Second Spanish Republic, held the official inauguration of the first classes at the new university. The first classes took place in the School of Philosophy, which was only partly finished at the time.

Today the Campus Universidad Complutense de Madrid has an annual budget of 500,000,000 euros. It offers 230 different degree courses and nearly as many doctorate programmes. Its 30 libraries have over 2,000,000 works of print, as well as an extensive archive with some 90,000 important historical documents, and a film collection that ranks as one of the finest and largest in Europe.

Over the years the university has produced many Nobel Laureates from both graduates and faculty members alike. It broadcasts to its students by way of the Gaceta Complutense, a bi-monthly newspaper, as well as through Radio Complutense, which is on air for 12 hours a day. The university abandoned its name of Universidad Central de Madrid and assumed its original name of Campus Universidad Complutense in 1970.