They say there are cities that say they are eternal, and Salamanca is definitely one of them. This city, eminently university-oriented retains all the passion that comes with European great cities. It is also the first European city to have university (opened in 1253), and therefore becoming a part in history. Also, this university was the first in the world in which he studied and taught a woman.
With this history, it is normal that the University of Salamanca remains one of the most important in Spain. Each year, it hosts more than 30,000 students enrolling from all over the world. As in all cities with university students everywhere, in Salamanca there is also always a good atmosphere in the streets and squares. A young scene and great parties!
The main square, or Plaza Mayor, is the true heart of the city. A continuous bustle of students, children, seniors and tourists spend their afternoons. One of the most historic cafes the square is the Cafe Novelty, Salamanca’s oldest café and meeting place for lirerati. Currently, they make every flavor ice cream that are AMAZING!
Opposite to some other cities in Spain, like the capital or Valencia, this will be new. Wwith Salamanca, you have to brace yourself for history. Old, great and fascinating history.
From the Plaza Mayor, you can start your tour to anywhere. A must are the Cathedrals, two beautiful buildings with opposite structures. The New Cathedral, Gothic and Baroque, built in the sixteenth century and famous for its astronaut (yes, there is a sculpture of an astronaut WELL before its time), can be visited in its entirety. To climb the tower and see everything from above, enter the exhibition Ieronimus (3.75 € day visit, 5 € night visit), a highly recommended experience because to see Salamanca, and the Cathedral, as well as the curious clock and the north facade.
The other Cathedral of Salamanca, is the Old Cathedral, attached to the south of the New Cathedral, resting on the ancient temple and with a much less spectacular interior. In the visit to the Old Cathedral, we can see both the building and the cloister and museum.
Walking through the streets of Salamanca
The streets of Salamanca hold many treasures among its many palaces, churches, museums and universities. Do not miss the Patio de Escuelas, with the statue of Fray Luis de Leon in front of the old university.
The Toad and Skull
The most popular symbol of old Spain is the one that lands on a skull carved in the plateresque facade of the University of Salamanca. Many experts have analyzed the mystery of this stone frog. They concluded that the objective of the sculptors was to outwit the inquisition.
Researchers argue that the skull represents the Prince Juan, son of Ferdinand and Isabella, who died in 1497 before reaching the age of 20. And the frog or toad accompanying intended to send a message to outwit iconographic the inquisition. Specifically, it could refer to death (skull) and the alleged resurrection of the body on the eve of Judgment, that unbelievers would only believe “when pigs fly”, ie, never. And the frog respresents the idea of “when frogs breed hair”, also meaning NEVER.
More to Salamanca
Casa de las Conchas
The Casa de las Conchas is a landmark building of the city, located right in front of the university, and is now a library.
Was built in 1493. It took 20 years to build. It was a noble palace in the XVI century, commissioned by the rector of the University of Salamanca, who also ordered the construction of the cloister of the old cathedral.
You can continue uphill and see the new university campus. With its gardens and graffiti, or cross the river and reach the Parador, from which one of the best views of Salamanca is obtained, with cathedral overlooking the city.
Among the public buildings of the famous University of Salamanca, the structure of the “Little Schools” (Minor Schools in Castilian) enclose an entire garden with the typical architecture of the Spanish courts. The surrounding buildings were built between 1611 and 1609, with many other contemporary public university.
The museum of Art Deco and Art Nouveau
The building, called the Casa Lis, is next to the Tormes River, erected in the hands of Joaquin Aguirre Vargas, who made the food market as well. It was done in the early twentieth century and is full of colors, blue and green windows that attract attention from afar.
And if you are into the spooky and weird, you can visit The Cave of Salamanca, where they say, the devil taught withcraft. I must advise this is not for the faint-hearted, because it is ultimately a place where bad things were said to happen.
Noteworthy to the whole Salamanca experience, what you REALLY must do is check out the nightlife. After a day of sightseeing an enjoying the town, go back to the Plaza Mayor. You will realize that it completely transforms in the evening with all its lights and many bars and pubs where young people dance, drink, run around and have fun. There will always be every language, and every nation coming together.
Because of its university-based citizens, Salamanca is always active at night. If you want to study, learn, walk around… Salamanca is always up for it. With students going up and down with homework, there’s always something to do. Therefore, you will have a blast, but you will also learn a LOT more than you expected about the kings and queens of Old medieval towns.
Finally, you must learn about the people of Salamanca: They are probably the best! They are friendly and will help you with tips and tricks to make your trip a lot more enjoyable.
Considered World Heritage since 1988, who can therefore say that Salamanca is not eternal?
- Getting to Salamanca. You can use highway A-66 from Zamora and Plasencia to reach Salamanca. Also, the A-50 connects to Avila.
You can reach from Madrid in 2:20 hours by the AP-6.
- Salamanca has an airport with regular flights to Barcelona.
- It also has trains that leave regularly from Madrid, Barcelona and even Portugal.
- Where to eat in Salamanca. Around the Plaza Mayor, there are cafes, restaurants and tapas bars. They come in all price ranges, so don’t worry if your budget is tight.
- Where to sleep in Salamanca- The vast selection of hotels and hostels is immense! I stayed in the Erasmus Home in Salamanca (which is for tight budgets and young people), and the partying was AMAZING! I would recommend it to anyone looking to make friends from all over the world.
Other than that, you can find hotels for every budget. I recomment downtown hotels, they melt with the beauty of the city.
- Downtown Salamanca is for walking. So forget about cars and cabs, and wear your best walking sneakers!