Salamanca has got to be one of the loveliest cities in Spain. The city has a golden glow due to the use of a lovely golden sandstone in its construction. The university, the two cathedrals and the Plaza Mayor - the main square are the main sights but there are many more and wandering round the old city reveals new treasures around every corner.
There are two key styles of architecture in Salamanca; Churrigueresque, a flamboyant baroque style developed by the Churriguera brothers and Plateresque.
Salamanca houses a university which was one of the most prestigious in the world for four centuries and is still one of the main universities of Spain. The University is a wonderful building, its facade is finely carved in Plateresque style. The facade has lots of medallions, emblems and other decorations. Look closely and if you find the hidden frog - without help - you will be rewarded with good luck and marriage in the year to come!
Close to the university are the old and new Cathedrals, Catedral Vieja and Catedral Nueva. The old cathedral is Romanesque and the new is Gothic. Its entrance is Gothic-Plasteresque and on a par with that of the university. The new cathedral was built to help support the old one which was on the verge of collapse. One of the best features of the old cathedral is the clock tower with a Byzantine style dome.
The university and cathedral are close together at one end of the Rue Mayor and at the other is the fabulous main square of Salamanca, the Plaza Mayor.
The Plaza Mayor is beautiful and contains many examples of Churrigueresque architecture. All around the square are cafes, bars and restaurants and the streets fanning out from the square are the main shopping streets of Salamanca. The area is very vibrant and a great place for a coffee or meal. In the square there is also now a large statue of an upside down elephant!
Also scattere around near the Plaza Mayor are various churches of interest including the Iglesia Convento de San Esteban with a Plasteresque facade. The Convento de las Duenas is a particularly beautiful convent which has a two-storey cloister.
The Casa de las Conchas is one of the most famous sights of the city. Its 15th century facade in Renaissance style is decorated with carved scallop shells representing the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella for which Salamanca is an important stopping point.
The Palace of Fonseca and the Palace of Monterrey are also not to be missed nor is the Torre del Clavero a 15th century tower with Mudejar-style detail.
Crossing the river Torres is a Roman bridge which is one of the best preserved in Spain. Puenta Romano still has 15 of its original 26 arches. The view of the old cathedral seen across the old Roman bridge (see above) is one of the iconic pictures of Salamanca. To get to the bridge go behind the new cathedral to the old cathedral and continue walking to the river.
There are also some nice gardens along the river edge behind the cathedral.
Museums in Salamanca
The Art Nouveau and Art Deco Museum, the Musée Casa Lis is housed in a beautiful building incorporating loads of painted glass and contains lots of fascinating exhibits including scent bottles designed by René Lalique for Guerlain and Worth.
Salamanca is not only beautiful and interesting but its large student population make it a very lively city. It has loads of bars and restaurants, good tapas, great nightlife, good shopping from high street chains such as H&M and Mango to smaller quirky boutiques. Accommodation is reasonably priced but can be difficult to find in July and August. We cannot recommend enough a visit to this gorgeous city.
Places to Visit Nearby
Salamanca is one of the most beautiful cities of Spain and nearby is La Alberca which is one of the most beautiful villages of Spain. Also not far away is Ciudad Rodrigo which is also one of Spain's most beautiful towns.
Photos of Salamanca
Click any picture to start the gallery
Map of Salamanca and places nearby
Salamanca places to visit
See more places nearby in the Castile and Leon guide