Guide to Salamanca – Castilla y Leon, Spain
The city’s name Salamanca is linked to Greek historians who called it Helmantike, Hermandica and Salamantica.
It is situated in the South West corner of Castilla y Leon on the borders with Extremadura and Portugal. The origins of this UNESCO World Heritage City hark back to Celtic times. This is a dynamic and welcoming city, where old meets new and culture and work blend together seamlessly, allowing visitors and residents alike to enjoy the city in full.
To even begin to apreciate Salamancas beauty we must look to the words of Unamuno “…plateresco rosal de otono, con su encendida amarillez en la tarde del Renacimiento de la hojas…”
Take a stroll through the streets of Salamanca to discover monuments, museums and buildings steeped in history and wisdom. The Plaza Mayor is one of Salamanca’s jewels and one of the most important main squares in Spain; Writer James Michener rated it one of the three greatest plazas in the world.
The Arcaded Plaza contains numerous medallions, such as Friar Luis de Leon and Unamuno and others representing writers and professors of the University of Salamanca. Ambling through the eighty or so arches around the square, you find the City Hall which has been designed in the same style. Marvel at the Casa de las Conchas (House of Shells), decorated with more than 300 pilgrim shells and the important Renaissance palaces including those of Salina, Orellana and Anaya
The University of Salamanca
One of the oldest institutions in Spain and of major importance. Even today it can claim to be one of Europe’s most renowned universities. The creation of the so-called Estudio Salmantino (literally Salamanca Study), which was subsequently converted into the university by Alfonso X, was to prove the decisive event in Salamanca’s emergence as a universally acknowledged city of culture. After its creation, four large colleges were built, including the Colegio del Arzobispo Fonseca. 28 smaller ones were also created.
Places of interest in Salamanca
The Clerecia or monastery
A Baroque construction that now houses the Pontifical University
Museo de Salamanca
An old Gothic-Renaissance house belonging to the Alvarez Abarcas
Museo de Historia de la Ciudad
Museum for the history of the City – which can be found in the town’s former Episcopalian Palace.
Museo de Art Deco y Art Nouveauis
Displays more than 1,600 pieces dating from the 19th to 20th centuries.
The house / museum of Miguel de Unamuno which dates from the 18th century.
A museum dedicated to everything that is bullfighting including suits, photographs, capes, swords, banderillas and capes.
Cathedral of Salamanca
Situated in the Plaza de Anaya is the Cathedral of Salamanca with its two temples joined together. Firstly, there is the Old Cathedral which attracts visitors due to the beautiful tombs of the bishops and members of nobility. Then there is the New Cathedral from the 16th century which houses the image of the Virgin of the Assumption and contains remarkable choir-stalls.
The ground plan of the Old Cathedral was altered when the New Cathedral was adjoined.
Salamanca also boasts important churches and convents dating back to the period when all professors at the University were monks. The Chapel of Santa Barbara is where prospective Doctors of Philosophy would keep vigil the night before their final exam: if they passed they would ring the bells, whilst failure meant exit via the Carros door.
Natural Park of Las Batuecas
Here you can find valuable cave paintings from the Neolithic era. Follow the trails on foot to the Cascada del Chorro (waterfall) enjoy the scenic beauty and hear the legends of Las Batuecas. Cave shelters listed in the Valle de las Batuecas include Canchal de las Cabras pintadas, Canchal del Aguila, Canchales de la Pizarra, Canchales del Zarzalon and Cueva del Cristo. These cave shelters have been declared Assets of Cultural Interest.