Salamanca’s old town, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage city in 1988, is relatively compact and can be visited on foot. Framed by Paseo San Vicente to the west, Av Mirat to the north, Paseo Canalejas to the east and the Tormes River to the south, most of the city’s monuments and attractions are contained within. The centre of the old town is the breathtaking Plaza Mayor, to the west is the Campo San Francisco the city’s first public gardens and to the south the world famous university and cathedrals. Estación de Salamanca the city’s train station is located north east of the old town along Paseo Estación and the bus station, Estación de autobuses de Salamanca, is north west of the old town on Av Filiberto Villalobos. Most of the Salamanca’s suburbs are north of the old town and there is a large city park, Parque de los Jesuitas, to the east.
We start our walking tour in the spiritual heart of Salamanca, Plaza Mayor. Built in the 18th century, this breathtaking Baroque square is famed as one of the most beautiful in Spain and it isn’t hard to see why. It is a popular place for locals and tourists alike to gather and now is lined with a variety of bars, restaurants, ice cream parlours and tourist shops. Within one of its 88 arches is the Tourist Information Centre (E-mail: información@turismodesalamanca.com, Mon – Fri: 09:00-14:00 / 16:00-18:30, Sat: 10:00-18:30, Sun: 10:00-14:00)
Leaving the square via Calle Prior we arrive at Palacio de Monterrey, a definitive example of the plateresque style and much imitated in the 19th century. Continuing along Calle Ramón y Cajal and left onto Calle Fonseca and we have arrived at Colegio Mayor de Santiago el Zebedeo (Everyday: 10:00-13.30 / 16:00-19:00, Entrance Fee: 2€/ 1€: Pensioners, Students, Groups +20. Monday Entrance Free). The college was founded in 1519 by the Archbishop of Santiago de Compostela and is also known as the ‘Irish College’ due to the amount of Catholic emigrates from the country that were educated there.
Along Calle Fuentecilla de San Blas and we are heading back towards the centre, taking a left through an alley and a right onto Calle Compañía. After passing the imposing Baroque Iglesia del Espíritu Santo La Clerecía we arrive at our next stop, the unmistakable Casa de las Conchas (Mon – Fri: 9:00-21:00, Sat: 9:00-14:00/ 16:00-19:00, Sun: 10:00-14:00/ 16:00-19:00: Entrance Free). This Gothic palace was built in the late 15th century and its façade is covered in shells, symbolising the owner’s position as a Knight of the Order of Saint James.
We now continue our trip towards what are arguably the city’s jewels in an already resplendent crown. A short trip along Calle Rúa Mayor and onto Plaza de Anaya where we are surrounded by some of the city’s finest architecture. The Palacio de Anaya was once used as a hall of residence but is now the Faculty of Languages and is one of the few buildings in Salamanca built in the neoclassical style. Construction of the building began in 1760, replacing an earlier structure damaged during the Lisbon earthquake.
Across the square, silhouetted against the Salamanca sky, are the city’s two cathedrals. The New Cathedral (Mon-Sat: 9:00-13.00 / 16:00-18:00, Sun: 9:00-13:00: Entrance Free), on which construction began in the late 15th century and continued for two centuries, is a mix of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture. The Old Cathedral (Mon – Sat: 10:00-12:30/ 16:00-17:30, Sun: 10:00-12:30: Entrance Fee 4,75 euros), which must be accessed through the New Cathedral, was completed in the 14th century in the Romanesque style. The dome of the Old Cathedral is commonly referred to “Torre del Gallo” (Cockerel Tower) due to the prominent weather vane on top. Make sure you don’t miss the chance to climb the cathedral’s medieval towers. The IERONIMUS exhibition (Everyday: 10:00-19:15 (last entrance) Entrance Fee: 3,75 Euros, Free Entry: Tues: 10:00-12:00) gives you the opportunity to walk around the battlements and upper balconies of the New Cathedral as well as offering gorgeous views across the city. Entrance is obtained via the Tower Gate on Plaza. Juan XXIII
A very short walk from the Cathedral, taking Calle Calderón de la Barca from the New Cathedral’s western wall, leads us to the iconic plateresque façade of the University of Salamanca (Mon-Fri: 9:30-13:.30/ 16:00-19:00, Sat: 9:30-13:.30/ 16:00-18:30, Sun: 10.00-13.30, Entrance Fee: 4 Euros / 2 Euros pensioners, students, groups +20, Free Entry: Monday morning and under 12s) on Patio de Escuelas Menores. Founded as a place of study in 1218, the university is one of the oldest centres of learning in Europe, reaching a zenith in the golden ages of the 15th and 16th centuries. Tradition dictates that students wishing to pass exams must find the frog carved into the relief but it isn’t so easy to spot, so be prepared to spend some time looking and remember, be patient!
Walk back to the Cathedral and turn right, heading towards its southern walls. Take Calle Tentenecio and then turn left onto Calle de El Expolio. Here we pass two of the city’s most interesting buildings. Firstly, the General Archive of the Spanish Civil War (Mon-Thurs: 8:00-20:30, Fri: 8:00-19:45), which is housed in the former Colegio de San Ambrosio, and contains many important and interesting documents about the conflict. A little further along the road is Casa Lis (Tues-Fri 11:00-14:00 / 16:00-19:00, Sat & Sun: 11:00-20:00, Entrance Fee: 4,00 Euros/ 2,00euros: pensioners, students, groups +10, Free Entry: Tues: 11:00-14:00), home to The Museum of Art Nouveau and Art Déco. Inaugurated in 1995, the museum is one of the most popular in the city and the northern façade is one of the few examples of modernist architecture in Salamanca.
Continue circling the cathedral until you reach its eastern wall, following Calle San Vicente Ferrer and then Cuesta Carvajal away from the Cathedrals. Cross Calle San Pablo and proceed along Calle San Buenaventura until we reach the last stop on our tour, the Convento de San Esteban (Everyday: 10:00-13:30 (last entrance) / 16:00-19:15 (last entrance), Entrance Fee: 3 Euros / 2 Euros pensioners). Construction began on the convent in the late 16th century and particularly noteworthy features are plateresque carved façade as well as the sumptuously decorated altarpiece, cloister and Soto stairwell. The convent was also the place where Columbus secured the backing of the influential Dominicans in his attempt to find a new way to India.
written by: Jon
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