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Old Cathedral of Salamanca, built in the 12th century.
Monterrey Palace (XVI century).

Salamanca is a city in western Spainmarker, the capital of the province of Salamancamarker, which belongs to the autonomous community of Castile and Leonmarker (Castilla y León). The Old City was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988.

It lies about 200 km west of Madridmarker and 100 km east of the Portuguesemarker border. With a population around 160,000 it is the third most populated city in Castile and Leon, following Valladolidmarker and Burgosmarker.

Salamanca is known both for its monumental sights and the University of Salamancamarker, which was founded in 1218 and is the oldest university in Spain and the fifth oldest western university. With its 30,000 students, the university is, together with tourism, the economic engine of the city. Salamanca is also known for the teaching of Spanish language, in this field, Salamanca houses 16% of the offer available in Spain and is known to attract thousands of foreign students .


The city was founded in the pre-Ancient Rome period by the Vacceos, a Celtic tribe, as one of a pair of forts to defend their territory near the Dueromarker river. In the third century BCE, Hannibal laid siege to the city. With the fall of the Carthaginiansmarker to the Romans, the city of Helmantica, as it was known, began to take more importance as a commercial hub in the Roman Hispania due to its favorable location. Salamanca lay on a Roman road, known as the Via de la Plata, which connected it with Emerita Augustamarker (present day Méridamarker to the south and Asturica Augusta (present-day Astorga) to the north. The Roman bridge dating to the first century, was a part of this road.

With the fall of the Roman Empire, the Alans established in Lusitania, and Salamanca was part of this region. Later the city was conquered by the Visigoths and included in their territory. The city was a already an episcopal see, and signatures of bishops of Salamanca are found in the Councils of Toledo

Salamanca surrendered to the Moors, led by Musa bin Nusair, in the year 712 CE. For years this area between the south of Duero Rivermarker and the north of Tormes River, became the main battlefield against the Muslim invaders. The constant fighting of the Kingdom of Leónmarker first, and the Kingdom of Castile and León later against the Caliphate depopulated Salamanca and reduced it to an unimportant settlement. After the battle of Simancasmarker (939) the Christians resettled this area. After the capture of Toledo by Alfonso VI of Castile in 1085, the definitive resttlement of the city took place. Ramón de Borgoña, instructed by his father-in-law Alfonso VI of León, led a group of settlers of various origins in 1102.

One of the most important moments in Salamanca's history was the year 1218, when Alfonso IX of León created the University of Salamancamarker. Soon it became one of the most significant and prestigious academic centres in Europe.[828455]

In 1551 the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V ordered an inquiry to find out if the science of Andreas Vesalius, physician and anatomist, was in line with the Catholic doctrine. Vesalius came to Salamanca that same year to appear before the board and was acquitted.

In the Peninsular War of the Napoleonic campaigns, the Battle of Salamancamarker, fought July 22, 1812, was a serious setback for the French, and a mighty setback for Salamanca, whose western quarter was seriously damaged. The battle which raged that day is famous as a defining moment in military history; many thousands of men were slaughtered by cannon fire in the space of only a few short hours.

Main sights

Salamanca is considered one of the most spectacular Renaissance cities in Europe. Through the centuries the sandstone buildings have gained an exquisite golden glow that has given Salamanca the nickname La Ciudad Dorada, the golden city. This golden glow is unique in Spain and is due to the "Villamayor Stone", a type of sandstone coming from a quarry situated in Villamayor, a village close to Salamanca.The Plaza Mayor is the central square in the city and is known as the living room of the Salmantinos (Salamancans). It was constructed by Andrés García de Quiñones at the beginning of the 18th century. The plaza has a capacity of 20,000 people and is surrounded by shaded arcades. The plaza was originally a venue for bullfights but is currently used primarily for concerts. The plaza is regarded as one of the finest squares in Europe. Next to Main Square we can see the Central Market of Salamanca with typical fresh products of Spain.

The old Romanesque cathedral was founded in the 12th century. The dome that covers its crossing springs from a double arcade that is daringly pierced with windows, a distant reflection of Hagia Sophiamarker. The mass of four pinnacles at the outside corners counter the thrust of the dome's weight. The thrust of the vaulting is borne by four massive pinnacles. The vault of the apse was frescoed by the Early Renaissance painter Nicolas Florentino. The adjoining "new" cathedralmarker was built in stages from 1509 and combines Late Gothic architecture, particularly in the interior, with the Renaissance style called Plateresque. It was still being finished in 1734. In the treasury is the bronze crucifix that was carried into battle before El Cid.

The Augustinian monastery contains the tomb of the count and countess de Monterrey, by Alessandro Algardi.

Since 1996 Salamanca has been the designated site of the archive of the Spanish Civil War (Archivo General de la Guerra Civil Española). This archive was assembled by the Francoist regime, selectively obtained from the administrative departments of various institutions and organizations during the Spanish Civil War as a repressive instrument used against opposition groups and individuals. [828456]. The socialist government moved the Catalan part of the archive to Barcelona in 2006 despite opposition from the local authorities and popular protests. Salamanca's mayor, Julian Lanzarote (PP), changed the name of the street where the archive is located from "Gibraltar" to "El expolio" ("the plundering") in February 2006.

Salamanca also has many museums of interest, one of which is Art Nouveau and Art Decó Museum Casa Lis.


In 1218, Alfonso IX of León founded the University of Salamancamarker. Under the patronage of the learned Alfonso X, its wealth and reputation greatly increased (1252-1282), and its schools of canon law and civil law attracted students even from the Universities of Paris and Bologna. At the height of the university, in the 16th century, one in five of Salamanca's residents was a student , and the city's fortunes depended on those of the university. About the time Christopher Columbus was lecturing there on his discoveries, Hernán Cortés took classes at Salamanca, but returned home in 1501 at age 17, without completing his course of study. (About ten years later the conquistador Francisco Vázquez de Coronado was born in Salamanca.) It was scholars of the University, heavily influenced by the Paris-based Scottish philosopher John Mair, who established in Spanish law (at the Council of Burgosmarker, 1512) the right to life and liberty of the indigenous peoples of America - perhaps the first ever international statement of human rights. Miguel de Unamuno was a student here as was Miguel de Cervantes. Ignatius Loyola, while studying at Salamanca in 1527, was brought before an ecclesiastical commission on a charge of sympathy with the alumbrados, but escaped with an admonition.In the next generation St. John of the Cross studied at Salamanca and so did the poet and writer Mateo Aleman.

Many people continue to come from all parts of Spain to study at the University, and the students represent a significant percentage of the city's population (the University has 36000 students, approximately). The support of the student population is one of the most important economic activities in the city. These young people (also consisting of international students studying the Spanish language) provide Salamanca with a highly active night life, specially when school is in session on both weekdays and weekends. This has led Salamanca to be in the top list of cities with the highest bar per inhabitant ratios in Europe, second to Bilbaomarker.


The city lies on several hills by the Tormes River, which is crossed by a bridge 150 m long built on 26 arches, fifteen of which are of Roman origin, while the remainder date from the 16th century.


Salamanca's climate is Continental Mediterranean, with cold winters, and hot summers softened by the altitude and dry throughout the year.



Renfe has trains to national destinations like Madridmarker, Barcelonamarker, Valladolidmarker, Zaragozamarker, while international destinations are Paris (via Irunmarker), Portomarker and Lisbonmarker



Old Roman Bridge (1' century A.C.)

Other roads


The airportmarker, located in the military base of Matacán, is located about 14 km from the city. Thera are regular flights to Barcelona, Paris, and charter flights to Palma de Mallorcamarker and the Canary Islandsmarker. In the summer there are also regular flights to Palma de Mallorca, Menorcamarker, Gran Canariamarker, Málagamarker and Ibizamarker.

Public Transport

There are 13 bus lines during the day and one night line. Also, a tram line has been projected.

Culture and sports

In 2002 Salamanca shared the title of European Capital of Culture with Brugesmarker. Salamanca is a popular tourist destination, especially in the summer. Tourism is the primary economic activity in the city.

Salamanca offers the amenities of a larger city while retaining an intimate small town atmosphere. Since 1923, "Los Charros", formally the Union Deportiva Salamanca, have been the Salamanca football team.

Salamanca was the setting for the 2008 political thriller Vantage Point, although the movie was almost exclusively filmed in Mexico.

The classic dish of the Salamancan, known as Charreria ("peasant lands"), is a cocido, a baked casserole of garbanzo beans.

A traditional Salmantinian celebration is the Lunes de Aguas, "Water Monday", the Monday after the Sunday following Easter. Originally this served to celebrate the official allowance of the authorities for the prostitutes to return to the city after Lent and Easter. All the shops close and Salmantinos picnic in the countryside to eat a kind of pie called "hornazo".


Image:Catedral Salamanca noche.JPG|New Cathedral, Salamancamarker.image:Catedralsalamancacupula.jpg|New Cathedral's dome.Image:Spanish civil war archive.jpg|Spanish Civil War archive (built in 1719).Image:Palacio de Monterrey Salamanca.JPG|Back facade of Monterrey Palace.File:Plaza_mayorsalamanca.jpg|Plaza Mayor.File:Casadelasmuertes1154.jpg|Casa de las Muertes
(XVI century).
File:P9190299_ANAYA.jpg|Anaya College
(XV century).
Image:Iglesia San Esteban Salamanca.jpg|Convent of San Esteban
(XVI century).
File:San estebam claustro.jpg|Interior courtyard of the Convent de San Esteban.Image:House of the shells in Salamanca.jpg|La Casa de las Conchas (the House of Shells)
(XV century).
Image:Casadelasconchas.jpg|Facade of La Casa de las Conchas.File:Iglesia Parroquial de San Juan Bautista.JPG|Iglesia parroquial de Villar de la Yegua (XV century).Image:Claustro convento dueñas by Almorca.jpg|Convent of Las Dueñas
(XV century).
Image:Casa lis NOCHE.jpg| Museum of Art Deco Y Art Nouveau Casa Lis.Image:Helmantico.JPG|Helmántico Stadiummarker.Image:Mercado Central de Salamanca.jpg|Central Market (1899–1909).Image:Salamanca - Fachada de la Universidad Pontifícia. La clerecía.jpg|Church of la Clerecía, built in 1617.Image:Huerto de Calixto y Melibea 3.JPG|Huerta of Calixto y Melibea.Image:Catedral Salamanca.JPG|The Tormes river for Salamanca.

Town twinning

See also

  • Salmantinos (Spanish for 'people/things from Salamanca'; several specific uses)
  • Salmanticenses (Is another denomination for the 'people/things from Salamanca'; it is less used than the one above.)
  • Salamanca Statement (Refers to the UNESCO Salamanca Statement (1994) calling calls on all governments to give the highest priority to inclusive education. See inclusive school and


External links

Museums (among many other without a webpage):

Electronic editions of local newspapers:

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