Salamanca is a UNESCO World Heritage City containing a fascinating selection of ancient buildings in its historical centre. All these attractions can be reached comfortably on foot so there is no need for public transport.
The Plaza Mayor is central to the city and will be central to your time in Salamanca. It contains a multitude of bars and cafés as well as numerous restaurants overlooking the square. There are few better places in Spain to experience the historical ambience of the city over a drink as you watch the world go by.
For accommodation there is a good selection of hotels within easy reach of the Plaza Mayor so for many visitors they are rarely more than a few minutes from the square throughout their stay.
As referred to above, this beautiful 18th-century baroque square is right in the heart of the historical centre of Salamanca. It was the venue for bullfights well into the 19th century. It is particularly stunning at night when it is illuminated.
The entrance to the university has a stunning facade containing an array of heraldry, historical figures including the busts of the Catholic Monarchs and a frog! It is said that if you spot the frog without help you’ll have good luck and will get married within a year.
Salamanca is the oldest university in Spain and was once on a par with Oxford, Paris and Bologna as a place of learning. Today it isn’t amongst the best of Spanish universities but is more important as a place for learning Spanish. This business attracts some 30,000 (mainly American) students every year.
Monday to Saturday: 9:30am to 1pm & 4pm to 7:30pm
Sunday: 9am to 1pm
The Two Cathedrals
Salamanca has two Cathedrals built next to one another. The New Cathedral dates back to 1513 and took over 200 years to complete hence the display of late Gothic, Baroque and Plateresque (early Renaissance) features within its architecture. Its tower dominates the old centre of the city and you’ll be able to see its dome from almost anywhere in the city. It is open daily from 9.30am to 1pm and from 4pm to 7.30pm. Building of The Old Cathedral began in 1140 and is architecturally very plain alongside the flamboyant and much larger new version. Most of the cloister was destroyed during the Lisbon eartquake of 1755 but is still worth a visit to see its Gothic tombs and ancient organ.
Old Cathedral Opening Hours:
April to September: Daily 10am to 1.30pm & 4pm to 8pm
October to March: Daily from 9am to 1pm & 4pm to 7.30pm
The House of Shells
The Casa de las Conchas (House of Shells) is Salamanca’s most photographed building. It was the home of a university professor who was a member of the Order of Santiago. He decorated the building with 350 scallop shells (the symbol of Santiago) as a monument to Santiago de Compostela.
Monday to Friday from 9am to 9pm
Saturday from 9am to 2pm and 4 to 7pm
Sunday from 10am to 2pm.
The Roman Bridge
Salamanca’s Roman bridge over the River Tormes dates back to 89 AD. It was an important part of the ‘Ruta de Plata’, the Roman silver route which ran from Mérida to Astorga.
Salamanca’s Convent Buildings
You’ll come across many old convents and former university buildings as you wander the streets of Salamanca. One of particular note is the Convento de San Esteban (Convent of St Stephen) which is well worth a visit to admire the huge stone altar which is one of the city’s most impressive religious sights (open daily from 9am-1.30pm & 4-8pm).
In addition, the Convento de las Dueñas is a popular attraction where the nuns sell traditional pastries to tourists. Its 16th cloister is the city’s most impressive.
June to September: Daily from 10.30am to 1pm & 4.30 to 7pm
October to May: Daily from 10.30am to 1pm & 4.30 to 5.30pm