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Salamanca: Old City of Castille and Leon

2017_071618_2307_593Salamanca. Let’s say it has always been on my mind ever since I learned that it is home to the country’s oldest university. For just like in the case of Alcala de Henares, also known as Spain’s university town, I yearned to check out and learn more about the place.

It was when I finally visited the place a few weeks ago that the town obviously come off as more than just a mecca for the learned, but so much more. Above anything else, it is a wondrous architectural paradise. I was entranced as I go about the town, even if I go to roam around for just a few hours.

Seriously, if there were something about the town that fascinated me the most, it was its cathedrals, both old and new. The two stand side by side, both flaunting their unique beauty that somehow complimented each other.  Witnessing the awesome beauty of these two works of art more than compensated my hours long trip.

I traveled 3 hours riding the normal autobus, and some 2 and a half on the express. Frankly, my total number of travel hours exceeded the length of time that I stayed in Salamanca.

But again, I have to say that it’s all worth it. The museums, the churches, the plazas, the restaurants and cafes, the souvenir shops, the monuments — everything that you want to see in a place is all here.

Here are some of the sites and attractions that you can see in Salamanca:

Plaza Mayor de Salamanca

2017_062610_3011_363The Plaza Mayor of Salamanca is know to be one of the most beautiful, if not downright the most beautiful of all of Spain. This sprawling spot in the midst of the city is the hot spot of all that involve Salamancan social life. A grand creation of Spanish architect Churriguera, the square is regarded as one that can rival the Plaza Mayor of Madrid, Spain’s premier plaza. On one side of the town square stands the edifice that houses the city hall of Salamanca. In this baroque style building is where the city functions and activities of the municipal government take place.

Porticoed arcade of the square

2017_071623_5001_811The four sides of the square are filled with establishments of all types — restaurants, ice cream kiosks, clothing boutiques, souvenir shops, among many others. Salamanca’s plaza  brims with life and vibrancy because of  all forms of human activities happening within– 365 days in a year

Casa de las Conchas

2017_071912_2339_250The House of Shells, built around the 1400s by Rodrigo Maldonado, used to be a palace that served as the residence of Catholic Monarchs. It was so-called because of the numerous shells jotting out of much of the edifice’s facade. It is said, but has yet to be proven, that a gold coin can be retrieved if the shell is removed from the wall.

Viejo Catedral

2017_062615_0200_855The construction of the Old Cathedral of the town, also known as the Cathedral of Santa María, started way back in the 12th century and was finished after more than 200 years. A project of then bishop Jerome de Perigord, it boasts of beautiful mix of Gothic and Romanesque style. Its patron saint is St Mary of the See. It may be small compared to the newer cathedral, but Viejo reeks in rich history.

Nuevo Catedral (the New Cathedral)

2017_062610_1729_358Salamanca boasts of two famous cathedrals, the Old and the New. The Old Cathedral, limited in space in the early 1500’s, and deemed to be unable to serve the burgeoning university town, was supplemented by a new one. The construction was a 200-year affair, with the edifice considered to be one of the last vestige of the Gothic style. The old catedral still stands to this day, although the original plan was to take it down once the Nuevo Catedral is finished.

Palacio de Monterrey

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The Monterrey Palace was the Plateresque-design edifice by the 3rd Count of Monterrey. Its current owner is the House of Alba, also the owner of the Monterrey country. It has been declared a National Historical Monument in May 1929

Salamanca’s Roman Bridge

2017_071912_2403_622One of the oldest roman bridges of Spain. Its span is ably supported by twenty-six arches, with more than half constructed by the Romans during the 1st century B.C.

Convent of San Sebastian

2017_071618_2032_237The Convent, also called the Church of San Esteban, was built in 1524 and completed in 1610. Like the Monterrey Palace, it also exhibits Plateresque-style, which is heavily evident in its facade. It is also called the Convent of the Dominicans because it is run by the said religious order.

Universidad de Salamanca

2017_062614_5400_919I went to Salamanca just so I can see the world famous University, known to be the oldest educational institution, having been founded in 1208. It also claims the title of the 3rd oldest university in Europe.

Universidad Pontifica de Salamanca

2017_062614_5751_692Another popular university is the Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca, which is of Catholic leanings. It was founded much later, at around 1940. It also has a campus in Madrid.

How I reached the city

By bus

Your trip to Salamanca starts by taking Line 6 and getting off at Mendez Alvaro. Here you’ll find Estacion Sur, the biggest bus station in Madid. There are 2 to 3 bus companies that offer trips to Salamanca, but I suggest that you take the Autores bus owned by Avanzabus Line. It has been my choice of commuting every time I travel out of town because it’s convenient, affordable, and even has pc tablet that offers movie and audio entertainment.

How much did I pay for the bus fare?

I opted an ida y vuelta ticket, hoping to pay less for the transportation fare. The guy at the ticket counter suggested that I buy an “abierta” return ticket — this required me to get a specific return time to Madrid once I arrive at the bus station at Salamanca. All in all, I just paid around 32 euros for my trip.

Indeed, a single day is good enough time to enjoy a wonderful, breathtaking place like Salamanca. For less than three hours, you will arrive in town before lunch time, go roam around the whole afternoon, have lunch and coffee at the plaza mayor, wander some more, take the bus home and arrive in Madrid late in the evening. Definitely, Salamanca is a perfect addition to your list of easy and enjoyable day trip destinations.

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