Jul 19, 2008

Salamanca Tourist Attractions

Plaza Mayor
The central feature of Salamanca is the Plaza Mayor, a regular square (actually trapezoid in shape) of arcaded three-story buildings in uniform architectural style which was begun in 1729 to the design of Alberto de Churriguera and completed in 1755. In its unity of conception and execution it is one of the most magnificent squares in Spain, a splendid setting for ceremonial occasions, in which bullfights were still being held in the 19th century. With its many cafes and bars under the arcades, it is a lively scene in the evening.

(Local Name: Universidad de Salamanca) From the Clerecía it is a short distance southeast along Calle Libreros to the once world-famed University of Salamanca (on the left). Among those who taught here were the humanist Fray Luis de León (1527-91), the mystic John of the Cross (Juan de la Cruz, 1542-91) and the philosopher Miguel de Unamuno (1864-1936), who also became Rector of the University. Cervantes was a student here. The Copernican system was recognized at Salamanca University at a time when this was still a grave heresy.

Cielo de Salamanca
The Sala Calderón de la Barca has decorative elements from the old University Library, including particularly the fine ceiling painting by Fernando Gallego (ca. 1480) known as the "Cielo de Salamanca", which illustrates the state of knowledge of astronomy in the late fifth Ccntury. Some of the painting has been lost, but it is still possible to see the signs of the Zodiac, a number of constellations and the four winds.

Convento de San Esteban
A little way upstream from Puente Romano is the Puente Nuevo (New Bridge), from the southwestern end of which radiate the roads to Ávila, Plasencia and Ciudad Rodrigo. From the near end of the bridge the Avenida de los Reyes leads to the Dominican monastery of San Esteban (on right, on higher ground), with a church built between 1524 and 1610, its facade covered with a riot of Plateresque decoration. It has a gilded high altar of 1693 by José de Churriguera, one of the sculptor's greatest works, and three side altars by pupils of his. To the left of the high altar is the tomb of the Duke of Alba, governor of the Spanish Netherlands. On the west wall, above the raised choir, can be seen a large fresco by Antonio Palomino, "The Triumph of the Church" (1705).

Patio de las Escuelas
Opposite the front of the University is the Patio de las Escuelas, in the center of which can be seen a monument to Fray Luis de León (1869). Around it are buildings in pure Plateresque style, giving it a very characteristic atmosphere of its own.

Old Cathedral

Immediately adjoining the south side of the New Cathedral is the Romanesque Old Cathedral of Santa María de la Sede, which is entered from the south aisle of the New Cathedral. It is difficult to get a general view of both cathedrals; the best view of the exterior of the Old Cathedral, however, is from the Patio Chico, which is reached from a doorway in the south aisle of the New Cathedral. The Old Cathedral, one of the most splendid buildings of its period in Spain, was begun about 1100 and was probably ompleted before 1200. From the Patio Chico there is a view of the chancel, with a magnificent tower-like dome over the crossing, known as the Torre del Gallo from the figure of a cock which surmounts it.

House of the Scallop-Shells

From Plaza Corillo the Rúa Mayor runs southwest to a small square, at the corner of which, on the right, is the Casa de las Conchas, built in 1514. This was the town mansion of Talavera Maldonado, a knight of the Order of Santiago, who decorated the facade of his house lavishly with the scallop-shells associated with St James, which create changing patterns of light and shade according to the position of the sun. Note also the finely wrought window grilles. Visitors are shown round the house, which has a very handsome two-story courtyard and a staircase well with a beautiful coffer ceiling.

More Information:

Salamanca Tourism
Salamanca Top Popular Hotels
Salamanca Map

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