The historic city of Salamanca in western Spain’s Castile and León region, lies 120 miles west of Madrid. The city is renowned for its beauty and historic interest; particularly important are its ancient University and the Old City, which is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Portuguese border is only 50 miles west of Salamanca, so you can easily take a day trip to Portugal.
The city was called Helmantica by the Romans. It was situated on the important Vía de la Plata route, with the ancient bridge a remnant of this first century era. The Alans, Visigoths and Moors followed. The Christians eventually took over and the University of Salamanca was granted royal charter in 1218, soon becoming a prestigious academic European centre.
The Baroque Cathedral and Plaza Mayor (main square) are evidence of Salamanca’s importance in the 18th century. The city became a temporary capital for Francisco Franco’s Nationalists (1936-9) and since 1996, Salamanca’s Colegio de San Ambrosio has housed the General Archive of the Spanish Civil War.
The tiny Plaza del Corrillo near the Plaza Mayor is lovely. The city’s first public garden Campo de San Francisco and the public park Huerto de Calixto y Melibea, by the remains of the Roman Walls, are great for strolls.
Salamanca’s other cathedral, the “old one”, was built in the 12th century Romanesque style. The old Gothic/Renaissance style University buildings by the square, known as Patio de Escuela, are very characteristic of this city.
The grand City Hall, the old Irish College (Colegio Mayor de Santiago el Zebedeo) and the House of Shells (Casa de las Conchas) are charming. The Cave of Salamanca, where the devil taught black magic on the slope of Carvajal, and the Central Market in the Plaza de la Verdura are also worth visiting. The kids will love the skulls that decorate the exterior of the early 16th century Casa de las Muertes.
Posted : Wednesday, September 26th, 2012 at 10:00
As well as writing about travel, Karen Bryan offers tips on saving money, frugal living and how to live well on less, on her site Help Me To Save