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Salamanca is one of those towns which, although not large in extension, impress any of its visitors. All the buildings in the center of town, even the new ones, are made of the stone from Villamayor, which contains a high concentration of iron making possible very filigree works, and its characteristic golden color gives strong personality to all the town.
Salamanca's cathedral is a prototypical example of plateresque style which is so typical for Spain, marking the transition from Gothic to Renaissance. Spaniards call this cathedral "La Nueva", the new one, as the old cathedral still exists at its side.|
In its splendid interior pay attention to the "Golden Chapel" with extraordinary works of sculpture and to the Patio Chico, the small yard, to be found at the place where "old" and "new" cathedral are built together.
A narrow street, Calle Calderón, leads you from here to the University quarter.
The University Quarter
The University of Salamanca is one of the oldest in the world, founded by King Alphonse IX only a short period of time after the Universities of Bologna and Paris. The building you can see today however was built at the time of the catholic kings, and is considered a masterwork of plateresque style. The façade is ornamented with numerous figures, the most famous among them the "frog on a skull", which numerous tourists try to make out - not easy considering the large number of small figures.
In the University's interior certainly the huge Library of 160.000 volumes is the main attraction. Worth visiting is also the staircase with reliefs showing scenes of bullfighting and the customs of students in old times who used to write their names at the façade with bulls blood.
In the center of the square in front of the University there is statue of Fray Luis de Léon, a famous poet and professor who was persecuted by the inquisition. When after years in prison he came back to give lessons, his first words were: "As we mentioned yesterday ..."
In Calle Calderón there is the Unamuno Museum in the building where this poet and rector had his office.
In the old Universitary Hospital you may visit the beautiful Renaissance court with its typical salmantinian arcades. The Old Library is interesting for its impressive fresco-painting "The Heaven of Salamanca".
Other important buildings in this quarter are the Renaissance palacePalacio Anaya and the famous Casa de las Conchas, , landmark of the town. The façade of this 15th century house, which is considered one of the most representative examples of isabellinian Renaissance style, is ornamented with reliefs of Saint Jacob's shells.
Another sight is the baroque Jesuit monastery La Clerecía, , of 18th century, with a huge cupola and an altar covered by gold.
At Plaza del Poeta Iglesias is to be seen the church Iglesia de San Martin, founded in 12th century, with its beautiful Romanesque style northern portal. Other parts have been added lateron in plateresque and baroque styles, respectively.
This large square, created in 18th century by Churriguera is without doubt among the most beautiful in Spain. It forms the real center of town, not only geographically. In the streets around there are many important monuments, as the church Iglesia de la Purisima and the Monastery of Saint Ursula in Calle Bordadores, the Capuchins Church in Calle Ramon y Cajal, the College of the Archbishop of Fonseca and, at its side, the Monasterio de los Irlandeses, an outstanding work of 16th century with a splendid Renaissance court, created by Berruguete.
Around the cathedral and along Gran Via there are several monasteries which deserve a visit.
Convento y Museo de las Dueñas is a plateresque 16th century building with a fantastic claustrum and beautiful court.
The Convento de San Esteban, also of 16th century and built by Juan de Alava, with an altar of Churriguera, is another masterwork of plateresque style. Churriguera was also the architect of the beautiful baroque Colegio de Calatrava.
More buildings worth visiting are the Convento de las Claras, Convento de los Jesuitas and the church Iglesia de Sancti Spiritus.
Those statues remind of important historical or legendary figures, who have determined Salamanca's long history of high culture.
Let us start with figures of medieval literature as the lovers Calixto y Melibea, in the "Gardens of the Matchmaker Celestina, where, as legend tells us, they used to meet in secret.
A statue of Saint Teresa of Avila you will find at the square called after her, a statue of famous jurist Padre Vitoria face to face to the Convento de San Esteban where he was living. At the same square lived, by the way, Christopher Columbus for some time. He didn't find open ears for his projects in Salamanca, maybe this is the reason why is monument is not located here but at Plaza de Colón.
Famous authors who lived in Salamanca were Nebrija, whose monument you may visit close to the Church of San Marcos, Gabriel y Galán, at the square called after him and Miguel de Unamuno, close to the Convento de Santa Ursula.
More MonumentsAt the end a few more monuments the visitor to Salamanca should not miss:
El Puente Romano, the Roman bridge over the river Tormes, one of the best conserved in all Spain. The House Lis, an outstanding example of the modernist architecture of early 20th century and the region's most visited museum . And finally the avenue Gran Via, of unique harmony as all the buildings and the beautiful arcades are made of the golden stone from Villamayor.
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