Travel with Smart Insiders to Salamanca, Spain!
Escape Madrid and venture to a new world for a day!
Salamanca is one of Spain’s oldest, liveliest, and most beautiful cities, not to mention that it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There is so much to discover in this ancient, bustling city, and it is so easy to travel here from Madrid since it’s only a two-hour bus ride away. The Smart Insiders team is here to offer you some pre-departure information to help you immerse yourself in Salamanca’s rich culture and heritage.
Salamanca University + Student Life
Did you know that Salamanca’s University is the oldest university in Spain? The University of Salamanca was founded in 1218 by King Alfonso IX, and in 1492 the famous Antonio de Nebrija published the first volume of Grammar of the Castilian Language here. Today, Salamanca’s university has grown to become a world center for learning Spanish as many people consider it to be where the “purest” form of Spanish is spoken. The university attracts over 4000 foreign students who want to learn Spanish per year, allowing for great diversity in the city! It is also probably worth mentioning that the nightlife in Salamanca is highly active, so you won’t be disappointed by the wide variety of clubs and bars.
When checking out the University, make sure you look for the legendary frog in the facade! There is a small frog carved into the elaborate stone facade of the University, and it’s considered good luck on your exams if you can locate it.
Plaza Mayor is an absolute MUST! The square was built between 1729 and 1756 in the Baroque style, and it is the heart and soul of the city. It is also the spot of the infamous “Botellón”, in which hundreds of young people congregate, drink and socialize. Another great event is Nochevieja Universitaria, which is a huge pre-New Year’s Eve celebration held in mid-December before the students return home for the holidays. On top of this, the square also hosts a range of performances by international and Spanish artists throughout the year.
Plaza Mayor is surrounded by cafés, with the most famous (and oldest) being the Novelty Literary Café, which has served as a meeting point for writers and artists since its opening in 1905. Plaza Mayor is the perfect place to start your journey with a café con leche or some tapas before exploring the city.
One of the most impressive things about Salamanca has to be its outstanding architecture. It is often referred to as the “Golden City” because the sandstone of the historic buildings shines and glimmers when the sunlight touches it.
Did you know that Salamanca has two cathedrals that are sat side-by-side? The Old Cathedral, dedicated to Santa Maria de la Sede, was founded in the 12th century, whereas the New Cathedral was constructed between the 16th and 18th centuries. Despite the age difference, both Cathedrals are equally impressive both inside and out. If you’re feeling curious, search for the astronaut carved into one of the doors to the New Cathedral!
Another site of note has to be Casa de las Conchas. It is like nothing you have ever seen before: the façade is decorated with more than 300 stone seashells! It has been said that the family jewels from the old owners are hidden under one of the shells, but nobody knows where. If you’re feeling lucky, you know where to head!