SUNNY, SPECTACULAR, SURPRISING: SALAMANCA, SPAIN
Site of the oldest and most prestigious university in Spain, Salamanca has a special ambience that appeals to everyone. Whether you are relaxing on the Plaza Mayor, taking classes or enjoying the many shops and historical buildings, this town has something for everyone.
First, find a place to stay: try the Parador Salamanca, a four star hotel overlooking the city with a pool, Turkish bath, tennis, gym, sauna and authentic regional cuisine. Or stay in a renovated convent at the edge of the city center, Hotel Palacio de San Esteban.
Then be a tourist:
- Old Town – a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988
- Plaza Mayor – considered the most beautiful square in Spain
- Old and New Cathedral (12th c. and 16th c. respectively)
- University façade – find the hidden frog and you’ll come back here
- Casa de las Conchas – 15th c. Gothic palace
A little history lesson:
- Pre-ancient Rome – city founded by a Celtic tribe, the Vacceos.
- Romans conquer “Helmantica” (check out the Roman bridge, still in use).
- Visigoths and other tribes rule after the fall of the Roman Empire.
- Moors invade in 712 but are pushed out in 939 AD.
- King Alfonso IX grants a charter to the university in 1218.
- Casa Museo Unamuno – Unamuno’s home when he was rector of the University
- Bullfighting museum
- University Museum and Library
- Cathedral Museum
- Casa Lis, the Museum of Art Nouveau and Art Deco
Grab a bite to eat:
- “hornazo” – bread filled with meat
- “toston” – roast suckling pig
- “tapas” – small snacks to have with a glass of wine
Off the beaten path:
- Day trip to La Alberca, Ciudad Rodrigo, Alba de Tormes or Bejar
- Visit a bull ranch and “fight” the baby bulls (capes only, no weapons)
- Hike the mountains surrounding Salamanca
For a nice break in your day, head over to Café Novelty, the oldest café in Salamanca (1905) or Meson Cervantes, both on the Plaza Mayor. And if you get caught up in the charm of this ancient city, stay for Spanish language classes. You won’t regret it.