Salamanca in Castilla y León is a cosmopolitan city that is home to one of the oldest universities in Europe.
Despite being settled by the Romans, Visigoths, and Moors throughout its early history, Salamanca's heyday didn't come until the 13th century with the construction of its university - the oldest in Spain and the third oldest in Europe.
The old city of Salamanca is now a UNESCO protected World Heritage Site with all of its beautiful Plateresque architecture including the 2 stunning cathedrals, the Catedral Vieja (Old Cathedral) and the Catedral Nueva (New Cathedral), an amazing 23 churches, beautiful palaces such as the exquisite privately-owned Palacio de Monterrey, well-preserved convents and monasteries including the Convento de San Esteban and several university colleges. The Cielo de Salamanca fresco in the university's Escuelas Menores is a wonderful work of art depicting the Sun and Mercury with the zodiac signs and the four winds.
Built from limestone that has developed a golden glow, the architecture of Salamanca has earned it the nickname of the Ciudad Dorada, the golden city. Unmissable is the Plaza Mayor, Salamanca's magnificent main square built in the Baroque style and lined with restaurants, cafés, ice-cream parlours and all sorts of shops perfect for finding a souvenir.
Visit the best museums in Salamanca, the Casa Lis and Casa de las Conchas. The Casa Lis is a modernist building with brilliant stained-glass ceilings that houses an impressive collection of 1600 art-nouveau and art-deco pieces which were left to the state by the antique dealer Manuel Ramos Andrade who spent his life collecting them. A newly refurbished Provincial Library, the Casa de las Conchas is a unique building whose facade is covered in over 300 shells, the symbol of Santiago, and is as beautiful inside as it its outside.
After all that history, why not go for a stroll beside the Tormes river which runs through the city and cross the ancient puente romano, the roman bridge which formed part of the Roman road Via de la Plata and was used by pilgrims walking the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route?
Beloved by writers, Salamanca has some unusual related attractions to visit in the Cueva de Salamanca, written about by Cervantes, a crypt said to be where the Devil trained 7 students, only one of whom escaped and who lost his shadow in the process to mark him out to others, and the Huerto de Calixto y Melibea, a romantic secret garden where lovers meet and attach locks to its well that was named after the lead characters in the novel, The Celestine, by Fernando de Rojas, telling a story of Romeo and Juliet style lovers who meet a tragic end.
Salamanca celebrates 2 big festivals, the Subida al Mariquelo on December 31 and Lunes de Aguas on the first Monday after Easter and is when hornazo is traditionally eaten - a pastry filled with pork, chorizo and egg.
Salamanca is a great place for doing some shopping with several shopping districts where you'll find crafts shops, fashion boutiques and gourmet food shops and there also some major malls on the city's outskirts.
In the restaurants of Salamanca you'll find lots of local delicacies including cured meats (chorizo, jamon, lomo iberico, salchichón), stews, roast meats, game, cabrito (goat), cheeses such as hinojosa de duero, pulses, and almond based sweets and biscuits such as armaguillos, mazapanes and bollo maimón.
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