Salamanca Visitor information
Salamanca is a Spanish city located in the autonomous community of Castile and Leon. It is home to the oldest university in Spain, the University of Salamanca, founded in 1218. In 1988 the city was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco. It has an important architectural heritage, among which are its two cathedrals, the Old Cathedral and the New, the Casa de las Conchas, the Plaza Mayor, the Convent of San Esteban and the university’s Colegios Mayores. Since 2003, the Semana Santa in Salamanca has been declared of International Tourist Interest. Plaza Mayor, in the Baroque style, designed by architects Alberto and Nicolás Churriguera, is the most important public area and is located in right in the centre of the city. The most popular museums in Salamanca include the Museum of City History, Unamuno House Museum, the Museum of Automotive History of Salamanca, the University Museum (University Library) and the Bullfighting Museum.
Getting to Salamanca
Salamanca has a bus service that connects its outlying neighborhoods to the centre. Since 2010, there is a bike rental service called Salenbici. The modern train station in Salamanca, which opened in 2001, is located about 15 minutes from the centre of Salamanca, at the Alamedilla Stop. Some of the main destinations are Madrid, Barcelona, Valladolid, Zaragoza, Bilbao, Oporto and Lisbon. Salamanca Airport, located in the Matacán military base, is located 14 kilometers from the city.
Accommodation in Salamanca’s university residences
Most residences and colegios mayores in Salamanca are assigned to the two most prominent universities, the University of Salamanca and the Universidad Pontificia of Salamanca. It should be understood that these residences and colleges are designed primarily for students and not children or adults expecting a high level of luxury. However, with this in mind, they do meet a level of comfort that we expect most visitors to be happy with, and we will welcome any feedback where this is not the case.
In the third century BC, Hannibal, during his advance through the Iberian peninsula, conquered the ancient city of Helmántica (Salamanca). The legend says that the Salamantinos surrendered the square without any resistance and peacefully left the city, but the women concealed the mens’ weapons under their dresses, with which they then besieged the Carthaginians within the city itself. With the fall of the Carthaginians, the Romans consolidated the occupation and the city began to take on some importance. In 712, with the Muslim invasion of the peninsula, Musa ibn Nusair conquered the city.
During the later Middle Ages, the area did not officially belong to anybody and many of the villages were destroyed by the frequent incursions by the Arabs. Salamanca was reduced to an unimportant and almost uninhabited city, but the Roman bridge remained intact. In 1253, the University of Salamanca was give a royal decree by Alfonso X, subsequently ratified by Pope Alexander IV in 1255. The university eventually reached vey high prestige and standing. In 1311, the only king of Castile from the town was born within its walls: Alfonso XI the Just. He acceded to the throne at the age of fourteen and conquered Gibraltar in command of Castilian-Leonese militias. The sixteenth century was the heyday of the city, both in demographics and in university life, thanks to the renown of its professors. During the War of Independence, Salamanca was occupied by the troops of Marshal Soult in 1809 and remained under French control until the battle of Arapiles in 1812, won by the Allied armies under the command of Wellington. During the occupation, the French built defenses and destroyed a large part of the city in order to obtain materials. The worst period came when Fernando VII of Spain ordered the closure of all the universities. Since reopening, the University of Salamanca was reduced to a mere provincial university.
During the Civil War, between October 1936 and November 1937, the Bishop's Palace was the residence and centre under General Franco. After the war, Salamanca focused on documents seized by the rebel army, which had defended the Republic, as they were occupying the territory. This had created a large document archive concerning the Spanish Civil War. The part of this archive that belonged to Catalonia was relocated to Barcelona in 2006.
Universities in Salamanca