Monuments

Plaza Mayor

 The winter and spring sun that “heals” the body and mind.  

Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful squares in Spain and in the world and one of the best examples of Baroque architecture in the Peninsula.

Since work was completed on it, this typical Castilian square, has been the meeting point for the people of Salamanca  - who see it as their living room – and foreigners alike.

Awarded the status of National Monument in 1935, in the technical and artistic accreditation it states that  it is "the most decorated, proportionate and harmonious of all the squares of its period in Spain".

It has 88 arches and a number of carves medallion reliefs.

Currently, as in the past, the square is still the venue for the city’s major religious, civil and lay celebrations: bull-fighting, processions and in the past, even executions. That is why some owners of the properties are able to rent out their balconies at these events at a considerably high price.

Quirky facts and legends

In 1954, the gardens planted there in the middle of the 19th Century were removed. The gardens were the venue for a curious ceremony whereby the men would walk clockwise around the gardens, and the women would do the same in the opposite direction. The square was a rendezvous point for friends as well as for lovers.

Each year on 15 August, above the belfry of the City Hall they place a flagpole, on top of which stands the figure of a bull with the Spanish flag. The figure, which is given the name of  "Mariseca", is placed there to announce the approach of the Salamanca festivals, and it is not removed until they are over.

Year of construction

Between 1729 and 1755

 

Casa de las Conchas

A love poem.

It is one of the most popular palaces of Salamanca and one of the best examples of Spanish Gothic civil architecture. It was commissioned in the late 15th and early 16th century by Don Rodrigo Arias Maldonado, a relative of the Catholic Kings and Knight of the Order of Saint James. The shells are the main ornaments of the building’s facade.

One of the aspects that generates a great deal of interest is why he chose the shells as the ornamental detail. Some believe that it was a show of pride by Maldonado for belonging to the order of Saint James. Others, undoubtedly more romantic, believe that the repetition of the shell, in heraldic terms the symbol of the Pimentel family, was an expression of love felt by Lord Rodrigo for his wife, Lady MarĂ­a.

The basement of the house later became the place where University students paid the penalties imposed by what was then their Vice-chancellor.

It is currently used to house a public library and an exhibition room.

Address: Calle Compañía 2

Telephone 932 26 93 17

Price: Free entry

 

University of Salamanca  

Salamanca has its own particular “heaven” and it can be found at the University.

Founded as a place of study in around 1218 by order of King León Alfonso IX, it was officially named a University in the Constitution (Carta Magna) by order of Alfonso X in 1254. It followed the Bologna model, namely it gave preference to the study of Civil and Canon Law over theology and philosophy which were favoured at the University of Paris. During its period of greatest splendour, the 15th and 16th centuries, it was the head of the European Universities. It is currently the oldest university in Spain. One of the main features is the Fray Luis de León lecture hall, the reliefs along the stairwell of the cloister, and the Library, founded in 1254 by Alfonso X “the Wise”, with a collection that contains a large number of priceless manuscripts and pre-1500 publications. Amongst these priceless treasures is a copy of the Tohá and the so-called “libros redondos”  that Torres Villaroel bought in Paris and which are in fact globes, but he gave them this name so that the librarian at that time would agree to pay for them.

Opposite the main facade of the University is the Escuelas Mayores courtyard. It could be said that this courtyard was the first town-planning project in the city, conceived simplistically as an area from which to contemplate the façade of the University.

The courtyard is bordered by the Gothic Escuelas Mayores (1415), the Hospital de Estudiantes (Student Infirmary) and currently the Chancellery, the Escuelas Menores building (1533) and the University façade (1512-1516).

Quirky facts and legends

The Escuelas Menores courtyard leads to the "Cielo de Salamanca". It represents an astrology programme that was undoubtedly involved with the teaching of astronomy and astrology at the University.

In keeping with student tradition, if you want to breeze though your exams, you must first see the frog on the University facade.

On almost all of the university buildings, you will find one of the famous "vĂ­tores" wall paintings. These were originally painted using bulls blood and symbolise the victory of the recently graduated Doctorate students over the books.

Address: Calle Libreros

Telephone: 923 29 44 00 (Ext. 1150)

Price: Tickets: 4 Euros / 2 Euros: - Pensioners / students / groups +20

Free: - Monday morning and for the under 12’s.

Ticket sales stop half an hour prior to closing time.

Limited access during official academic ceremonies.

 

Pontifical University and the Clerecía Church 

The strength of life and ideas.

The Royal College of the Jesuit Order was built in part by Gómez de Mora in 1611. The missionaries that were trained went on to spread the Catholic Faith around the world. Nevertheless, the herculean construction task lasted another 150 years before it was completed at which time,  in 1767, the Jesuit Order was expelled from Spain by Carlos III. The building was subsequently split into four, was abandoned and then suffered the scorn of war, ecclesiastical confiscation and finally ruin. It was in 1946 that it was reformed and was used to house the Pontifical University.

Quirky facts and legends

Both the college and the private areas of the nuns have an upper gallery allowing them to go for strolls and enjoy the sun in the winter months, as the convent has neither allotment or garden.

Address: Calle Compañía

Telephone: 923 27 71 00

Price: Tickets: 10 Euros. Guided tours (consult directly with the University).

 

La Clerecía Towers  

A birds-eye view of the city.

There is a new balcony on the Clerecía Towers where visitors can discover for themselves the splendour of this World Heritage City – from a bird’s-eye view. A walk around the towers, next to the clock tower, allows visitors to contemplate the rich and varied architectural cultural heritage that the city has to offer, the complex pattern of its streets and the Baroque exuberance of the Clerecía. The visit includes other buildings such as the Patio de Estudios, the Escalera de Honor and the women’s gallery.

 

Cathedrals

The silhouette of the Cathedrals towers over the Salamanca skyline and its inside reflects the life and history of the city and the city’s residents. Together, standing side by side, they go to form a wonderful historical and artistic complex: the Old Cathedral and the New Cathedral.

The new one, a fusion of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture. The Old one is Romanesque.

Old Cathedral

To access the Old Cathedral, visitors must first go through the new one. As you walk through the door, you are taken back in time, this Romanesque church is home to an ancient, medieval spirit. Architecturally speaking, a defensive building, linked to the period of resettlement (work on its construction began in around 1509, of a people at war where the heroes of the time were the so-called warrior saints  (Raimundo de Borgoña or Bishop Jeronimo).

Quirky facts and legends

The San MartĂ­n Chapel is also known as the Aceite (oil) Chapel, because it was used to store the earthenware jars of oil that were used to fuel the lamps in the Cathedral. The thickness of its wall meant that during the Spanish Civil War, it was used as an air-raid shelter, and even General Franco is reputed to have sheltered here.

The dome of the Old Cathedral is commonly known as the "Torre del Gallo" (Cockerel Tower) due to the weather vane in the shape of a cockerel on top.

Address: Plaza de Anaya. P.10

Price: Tickets: 4.75 Euros /4 Euros (Groups of 20+)

3.25 Euros (Spanish school children)

Free entry for the Spanish: Tuesday morning up to midday.

New Cathedral

Towards the end of the 15th century, the population of Salamanca underwent huge growth, thanks to the popularity and renown of the University. The Old Cathedral was now too small, and the mostly Gothic aesthetic and ideology of its interior made it a rather archaic venue and it was simply not very practical. So in 1513 work began on the construction of the New Cathedral, one of the last Gothic cathedrals to be built in Spain, and it was completed some two centuries later in 1733. Different architectural styles seem to randomly appear in its construction. The New Cathedral epitomises urban development. Its opulence reflects its triumph over its ideological rivals and of its parishioners. It is both the larges and the tallest building in the city.

Quirky facts and legends

In 1755, the famous Lisbon earthquake seriously damaged the bell tower. The bell mechanism was damaged so the bell-ringer had to climb up to the bells to ring them. This tradition continues to this day and each 31 October, someone wearing a traditional Salamanca outfit climbs the tower and plays a charrada a traditional Salamanca tune.

Address: Plaza de Anaya.

Telephone: 923 21 74 76.

Price: Free entry

 

IERONIMUS exhibition (Climbing the Cathedral towers)

The Cathedral’s medieval towers are one of the most iconic sites of Salamanca. From the distance, you can clearly see their shape, signature of the Salamanca skyline; and up close, towering some 110 metres above, they are a very imposing sight indeed. The tour inside gives visitors an insight into the history of its construction, surrounded by its 900 years of art and history at the Ieronimus artefact exhibition. A tour of the Cathedral’s medieval towers, walking amongst battlements, pinnacles and gargoyles, gives spectacular views over the Old Cathedral and its wonderful altarpiece; from the New Cathedral from its interior walkways; purveying the whole city, the cathedral complex, along the banks of the Tormes from the terraces and watchtower.

Exceptional views, an incredible discovery and another wonderful gift from the Cathedral to the city.

Location: Entrance via the Tower Gate in Plaza. Juan XXIII

Price: Tickets: 3.75 Euros /3.25 Euros (Groups of 20+)

Free entry Tuesday: 10:00 to 12:00.

www.ieronimus.es

 

Roman Bridge

The path taken by Hannibal, Lazarillo and the French Generals.

Only the arches on the city-side of the bridge are original, the rest date from the rebuilding of the bridge in the 18th century. This bridge is part of the renowned Ruta de la Plata, a route that was of major economic and strategic importance following the Roman occupation.

As we get to the bridge, we come across a pre-Roman carving of a boar, a sign of protection, immortalised in Lazarillo de Tormes, one of the great pieces of universal literature.

 

San Esteban Convent  

Emperor:  the indigenous people have “soul”.

The majority of this opulent building was started in the 16th Century on the orders of Cardinal Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, son of the second Duke of Alba. There is a long list of notable thinkers who once walked its cloisters: Francisco de Vitoria and his Salamanca School, Domingo de Soto, Melchor Cano, Diego de Deza as well as famous visitors such as Christopher Columbus, Santa Teresa and San Ignacio de Loyola, who added to the fame of this already renowned convent. Of particular note is its carved facade, its altarpiece, cloister and Soto stairwell.

Quirky facts and legends

Within the area of the cloisters is the Sala Profundis. This is where Christopher Columbus first expressed his idea to the Dominicans of taking a different route to reach the “Indies”. The backing of the Dominicans was decisive in the Catholic Kings decision to give their approval to Columbus’s venture.
Just next to the cloister is the Santa Teresa confessional. In 1571, Santa Teresa was in Salamanca and used it to make her confessions.
The Dueñas Convent is connected to that of the Dominicans through the so-called Soto bridge. It was built in 1556 to avoid the dirty gutter that led from the present day Gran Vía to the River Tormes.

Location: Plaza del Concilio de Trento

Telephone: 923 21 50 00

Price: Tickets: 3 Euros / 2 Euros (Groups of 20+); students and pensioners

Children 10 and under have free entry.

 

Anaya Palace

Former Colegio Mayor de San Bartolomé (a university residency), founded in 1401 by Lord Diego de Anaya, and it is currently home to the Faculty of Languages. The current building is one of the few in Salamanca to be built in a neoclassical style. Construction work began in 1760, most likely the original Colegio having been destroyed or seriously damaged during the Lisbon Earthquake. It was built by José Hermosilla and Juan de Sagarvinaga. Its most distinguishing features are its facade, the cloister and the imperial stairwell inside the building where there is a bust of Miguel de Unamuno by Victorio Macho in 1930. It stopped being used as a university residency in 1798. The main facade has an immense entranceway  with stairways and four pillars finished off with a pediment; at the highest part of the building is a large heraldic coat-of-arms; the ten windows of the lower floor boast a beautiful grille and there are another ten balconies on the upper floor.