Country: Spain Language: Spanish Currency: Euro (€)
Salamanca is a sand castle-like city in west Spain. It is known as ‘The Golden City’ due to its plentiful sandstone buildings. Salamanca’s Old City is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a popular tourist destination. It is home to the Salamanca Cathedral, which is really two cathedrals joined together as one, and the oldest University in Spain. The detailed carvings on the sandstone buildings, the history, and the laid back, but energetic Spanish atmosphere makes for a perfect weekend getaway!
CTW Must See
Convento de San Esteban
The Convent of San Esteban originates in 1255, but was later demolished to build the Church of St. Stephen. Construction for St. Stephen was completed in 1610. It is said that Christopher Columbus stayed in the convent during his time in Salamanca! The detailed Plateresque facade of the church is displayed under a grand archway. For a small fee, visitors have access to the Gothic and Renaissance styled cloisters and the interior of the church.
The Old Cathedral
While the Old and New Cathedral are now joined together, we think they both deserve attention. The Old Cathedral was built in the 12th century and features a large Romanesque Gallo Tower. Inside the Old Cathedral you’ll find a beautiful apse featuring 53 paintings representing the life of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. For a small fee, you have access to cathedral roofs, where you can walk among the Gallo Tower, the tall steeples and the beautiful blue dome.
The New Cathedral
Built in the 16th century, the New Cathedral took nearly two centuries to complete. The New Cathedral sits on the opposite side of the Old, and displays a carved facade with a range of significant, and perplexing, carvings. A significant carving includes the crystal skulls, which represent the 3,600 year old Mayan artifacts. The more modern carvings include a dragon eating ice cream, a crayfish, and an astronaut!
University of Salamanca
The University of Salamanca is not only the oldest university in Spain, but the third oldest in the world still in operation! It was founded in 1134 and originally a catholic school. The beautiful sandstone facade displays many carvings of various religious representation. Today, the university attracts students from all over the world, as it is a leader in humanities and language studies.
Casa de las Conchas
Casa de las Conchas, home to the public library, was built between 1493 and 1517. The fascinating facade is filled with over 300 shells! It is said that under one of the shells, a gold coin is hidden.
The Clerecia, or the Royal College of the Society of Jesus, is found directly across from Casa de las Conchas. Building of the large Baroque style building started in 1617 and took nearly 150 years to complete. A ticket can be purchased that allow access to the museum and the tower.
The Monterrey Palace is a Plasteresque style and one of the best representations of Spanish Renaissance. The building was built in the 16th century and meant to be much larger than it is today. They ran out of money in the building process, never building it to look as it was intended to look. Monterrey Palace is located in a quiet part of Salamanca, but still in the thick of the city’s rich history.
Plaza Mayor is a large, central square built in the traditional Spanish Baroque style. The square plaza houses the city hall as its main feature, and is surrounded by three sides of housing on the upper levels, and shops and restaurants on the bottom level. Built in the mid-1700, this square features a picture-perfect Spanish scene. The plaza has six entrances, and over 200 balconies! Plaza Mayor is the perfect place to grab a glass of sangria, enjoy some tapas, and people watch, as it is one of the busiest squares in the city.
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If you love the energetic Spanish city of Salamanca, then these other cities could be your next adventure!