Salamanca is an old university town located in the autonomous community of Castilla and Leon in western Spain. It was conquered first by the Carthaginians in the 3rd century BC, followed by the Romans, and finally the Moors till the end of the 11th century.
Salamanca is home to many treasures, each one unique in its historic value, architectural splendour and cultural enrichment. Here are my favorite places in the Old City of Salamanca.
Catedral Nueva de Salamanca
Catedral Nueva de Salamanca or the New Cathedral of Salamanca was one of the first buildings to incorporate the Plateresque style, a fusion of Gothic with Renaissance. However, as I walked around the building, I observed that the building was more or less Gothic in character.
You see, the cathedral was built so as to blend in with the Old Cathedral of Salamanca. Also known as the Catedral Vieja de Santa Maria, the old cathedral was built back in the 12th century. The architects of the new cathedral did not want to demolish the old cathedral, nor build something starkly different. You can see a wall of the new cathedral leaning onto the north wall of the old cathedral. But visitors often mistake them as one.
University of Salamanca
Another main highlight of the city is the University of Salamanca. Founded in the 12th century, it is the oldest university in the Hispanic world. It is also the third oldest university in the world to be still operating, after the University of Bologna (Italy) and Oxford University (England). Check out the amazing detailing on the facade!
Casa de las Conchas
A strangely unique building to visit in Salamanca is the Casa de las Conchas or the “House of Conch Shells”.
Built in the late 15th century by a knight of the Order of Santiago de Compostela, the facade consists of more than 300 shells. Shells were the symbol of pilgrims walking the Camino de Santiago or “Way of Saint James”. This could be a reason why the knight went all out on shells!
A popular gathering place in Salamanca is the Plaza Mayor. Here you can find plenty of cafes, restaurants, ice cream parlours, and stores selling jewelry, souvenirs and knick-knacks.
Built in the traditional Spanish Baroque architectural style, the Plaza Mayor of Salamanca is considered one of the most beautiful plazas in Spain. I found the architecture lovely, but not quite as stunning when compared to other plazas, such as Grand Place in Brussels.
Puente Romano of Salamanca
One can end the day by taking a stroll on the roman bridge located along the ancient city walls of Salamanca. On one side of the bridge, you will find the Casa Lis, home to the Museum of Art Nouveau and Art Deco. Even if you’re like me and don’t want to pay the entrance fee, you can always admire the noveau deco external facade.
Popular Day Trips from Salamanca
• Segovia, Spain
• Avila, Spain