Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra was born in the town of Alcalá de Henares, near to Madrid, on 29 September 1547. Interestingly, his birthday is also his name day - the 29 September is St. Michael's day.
In 1605, his highly successful novel El Ingenioso Hidalgo de Don Quijote de La Mancha was published. It was an enormous success so he decided to write a second part which was published in 1613. The story is about Don Quijote, a country gentleman who is growing old. He is obsessed by stories of chivalry and pretends to be a heroic knight. Accompanied by Sancho Panza, a local peasant who he chooses to be his squire, he journeys on horseback trying to appear like the figure of his fantasies.
The story is comical. It is considered to be one of the greatest pieces of literature in the world and it belongs to the Spanish Golden Age (El Siglo de Oro). This is the most important artistic and cultural era in Spain during which great Spanish art and literature was created. El Siglo de Oro took place approximately during the end of the 15th century till the latter part of the 17th century. Below is the original cover to the book when it was first published in 1605.
Below, there is a famous bronze statue of Don Quijote and Sancho Panza. This statue can be seen in the writer's home town of Alcalá de Henares.
Miguel de Cervantes had a daughter called Isabel. She became a nun. When Miguel died in Madrid at the age of sixty-eight, his wish was to be laid to rest inside the convent where his daughter lived:-
El Convento de San Ildefonso de Las Trinitarias Descalzas. Although it was known that his resting place was within the convent, nobody was certain of the exact spot. Then, in March 2015, a team of researchers discovered a hidden crypt. It is believed that the burial place of Cervantes has been discovered!
There is an enormous coincidence regarding the date of Miguel's death. It is the same as the day on which William Shakespeare died - 23 April, 1616. For this reason, the 23 April is officially World Book Day - el Día del Libro - in remembrance of those two great writers. In the area of Cataluña in Spain, it is the tradition for partners and loved-ones to exchange a rose and a book with each other on 23 April. It is called el Día del Libro y de la Rosa.
There are some some famous sentences written by Miguel de Cervantes that have become Spanish proverbs :-
La pluma es la lengua de la mente.
The pen is the language of the soul.
El que lee mucho y anda mucho, ve mucho y sabe mucho.
He who reads a lot and travels a lot, sees a lot and knows a lot.
To celebrate the birth of Miguel de Cervantes, there exists a yearly event which coincides with the writer's birthday on 29 September. It is called La Semana Cervantina. This event takes place in various Spanish towns and most importantly in the town of the writer's birth - Alcalá de Henares. Part of the week's festivities is el Mercado Cervantino - a market in the style of the 1600s. During the week, people dress in costume from the era of Cervantes, ride horses, play music, etc.