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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Glimmingehus

Glimmingehus is the best preserved medieval stronghold in Scandinavia. It was built 1499-1506, during an era when Scania formed a vital part of Denmark, and contains many defensive arrangements of the era, such as parapets, false doors and dead-end corridors, 'murder-holes' for pouring boiling pitch over the attackers, moats, drawbridges and various other forms of death traps to surprise trespassers and protect the nobles against peasant uprisings. The lower part of the castle's stone walls are 2.4 meters (94 inches) thick and the upper part 1.8 meters (71 inches).

Construction was started in 1499 by the Danish knight Jens Holgersen Ulfstand and stone-cutter-mason and architect Adam van Düren, a North German master who also worked on Lund Cathedral. Construction was completed in 1506.

Ulfstand was a councillor, nobleman and admiral serving under John I of Denmark and many objects have been uncovered during archeological excavations that demonstrate the extravagant lifestyle of the knight's family at Glimmingehus up until Ulfstand's death in 1523. Some of the most expensive objects for sale in Europe during this period, such as Venetian glass, painted glass from the Rhine district and Spanish ceramics have been found here. Evidence of the family's wealth can also be seen inside the stone fortress, where everyday comforts for the knight's family included hot air channels in the walls and bench seats in the window recesses. Although considered comfortable for its period, it has also been argued that Glimmingehus was an expression of "Knighthood nostalgia" and not considered opulent or progressive enough even to the knight's contemporaries and especially not to later generations of the Scanian nobility. Glimmingehus is thought to have served as a residential castle for only a few generations before being transformed into a storage facility for grain.

An order from Charles XI to the administrators of the Swedish dominion of Scania in 1676 to demolish the castle, in order to ensure that it would not fall into the hands of the Danish king during the Scanian War, could not be executed. A first attempt, in which 20 Scanian farmers were ordered to assist, proved unsuccessful. An additional force of 130 men were sent to Glimmingehus to execute the order in a second attempt. However, before they could carry out the order, a Danish-Dutch naval division arrived in Ystad, and the Swedes had to abandon the demolition attempts. Throughout the 18th century the castle was used as deposit for agricultural produce and in 1924 it was donated to the Swedish state. Today it is administered by the Swedish National Heritage Board.

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