Old City of Salamanca

Salamanca, Spain

This ancient university town of Salamanca was first conquered by the Carthaginians in the 3rd century B.C. It then became a Roman settlement before being ruled by the Moors until the 11th century. The university, one of the oldest in Europe, reached its high point during Salamanca's golden age. The city's historic centre has important Romanesque, Gothic, Moorish, Renaissance and Baroque monuments. The Plaza Mayor, with its galleries and arcades, is particularly impressive.

Beginning with the Roman Bridge that spans the River Tormes southwest of the city, numerous structures still testify to the two thousand year-old history of antique Salmantica. The remarkable examples include the Old Cathedral and San Marcos (12th century), the Salina and the Monterrey Palaces (16th century), and above all the Plaza Mayor (1729-1755). But the city owes its most essential features to the University. The remarkable group of buildings in Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque styles, which, from the 15th to 18th centuries, rose to the institution that proclaimed itself “Mother of Virtues, Sciences, and the Arts” makes Salamanca an exceptional example of an old university town in the Christian world, such as Oxford and Cambridge.

The Cathedral School of Salamanca existed as far back as the late 12th century. The oldest university building in Salamanca, now the Rectorate, is the old Hospital del Estudio, built in 1413, with the final element of the building programme begun in 1533.

Salamanca provides one of the oldest examples of university facilities conceived as such rather than as colleges. However, the city also boasted many colleges, which were generally charitable institutions with close ties to the University.

Most of these buildings are located in the Old Quarter of the city. However, other monuments, located in the surroundings of the protected core area, are also part of the property. All are magnificent examples of religious architecture belonging to different styles: the Romanesque churches of San Marcos, San Juan de Barbalos, and San Cristóbal, the convents of Las Claras and Santa Teresa, the Gothic-Renaissance church of Sancti Spiritus, and the Colegio de los Irlandeses. 

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