Salamanca On Foot
Posted on January 29, 2013 by sguese
There is a feel-good Spanish buzz that reverberates throughout Salamanca. Castilla’s liveliest and arguably most beautiful city keeps up the spirit through a variety of means. From Salamanca’s old world architecture to Plaza Mayor, the crowning jewel of the city’s crown, there is a tone to this city you can easily feel. Step into the eclectic and vibrant collection of bars, cafés and restaurants and Salamanca’s spirit will engulf you.
Begin in Plaza Mayor: Any visit to Salamanca must begin in Plaza Mayor. The plaza is the centerpiece of a monumental city, where Salamanca’s modern heart lies. Built between 1729 and 1755, the grand square is often said to be the most beautiful in all of Spain. Designed by Alberto Churriguera, the plaza held bullfights up until the 19th century. Today, things are decidedly tamer, best appreciated at night when all of Plaza Mayor magically lights up.
Next, see the old and new cathedrals: In Salamanca, there are two dueling cathedrals in age and style. Catedral Vieja boasts old foundations in 1120. Its gothic and Byzantine influences are easily seen and felt. Home to one of Europe’s oldest organs, you can also discover the 15th century Renaissance altarpiece.
Catedral Nueva on the other hand dates back to the “new” age of 1513. It is marveled for its many different styles. The wealth of styles can be explained by its construction. Catedral Nueva took over 200 years to complete. You will see late gothic, baroque and Plateresque features throughout the cathedral.
Take in the view at Puerta de la Torre: While you are visiting Catedral Nueva, don’t forget to head up Puerta de la Torre, the tower located on the southwestern corner of the cathedral’s façade. The tower affords climbers with fine views over Salamanca.
Study up at Universidad de Salamanca: The oldest university in all of Spain, Universidad de Salamanca was once considered the greatest of Europe’s educational institutions, right up there with Oxford, Paris and Bologna in the medieval world. You might consider going back to school just to go here and walk through its grand entrance, dating from 1534. Visitors are invited to poke their noses and eyes in a dim and dismal 16th century classroom to see how much universities have changed over the years. Alfonso IX founded the university in the early 1200s.
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