Top things to do in Salamanca
Salamanca is a city in Spain with a rich historical heritage, that lies on the Tormes River in Salamanca province in the northwest part of Spain. This exceptional city has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988 and has been on the map since 220 BC. A hub for students from all over the world, this city has a young heart in an ancient structure.
Here are the top things to do and see in Salamanca:
1. The University (The Cathedral School of Salamanca)
The top-ranked university in Spain is also one of the oldest in the world and one of the most dazzling when it comes to its architecture and history. Resembling a building from an epic fantasy movie, its facade hides a sculpture that is considered to bring good luck to people who see it with no help: a frog sitting on a skull.
The library contains over a million volumes, and not only that. The ceiling fresco in the library, called Cielo de Salamanca (Sky of Salamanca) was painted in 15th century by Fernando Gallego, and depicts beautiful portraits and constellations Most of the university can be visited for a fee of 10 euro.
While visiting this location, make sure to take a look at the official store of the school, called Mercatus, for some really neat and authentic souvenirs.
2. The Old Town
This part of the city is what’s left of what is considered to be the Golden Age of Salamanca. It features buildings in every architectural style, Gothic, Baroque, Renaissance, etc, displaying a 2000 years history to every visitor who comes to admire it.
Aside from the old University, there are many historical buildings, restaurants, and shops. What’s even better, is that the whole area is mostly for pedestrians, so you won’t be slowed by traffic or stoplights. There are tours available for this area of the city led by expert guides who will tell you everything about its history in the course of about 3 hours.
One of the main places for gathering here is Plaza Mayor, where tourists and locals can enjoy a drink while admiring the beautiful architecture surrounding them. Close by, you can visit the House of Shells, a structure built in the 15th century in Gothic style and covered with shell sculptures. Right next to the House of Shells you can visit the interior of Cleregia Church, a baroque edifice that was built in the 17th century.
Two of the most visited structures in Salamanca are the new and the old cathedrals that are joined together but built at different times. The old cathedral of Salamanca was raised in the 12th century, followed by the new building in the 15th century. Both of them have Gothic influences. The inside can be visited for a fee.
3. Huerto De Calixto & Melibea
When you visit the old part of the city, you must take a stroll through the gardens of Huerto De Calixto & Melibea, which surround the old town’s walls. There’s no more romantic place in the area than this, if you’re with your loved one, or if you simply want to read a book.
The garden was the inspiration of Fernando de Rojas while writing his book entitled “La Celestina” in the 15th century.
This particular garden is not big, but the dense vegetation makes it the perfect retreat. A sculpture of Celestina is placed at the entrance, and you’ll be able to see a wonderful panorama of the city while on top of the old city walls.
4. The Roman Bridge
This 360 meters long bridge was built by the Romans over 2000 years ago and it survived floods and other disasters through multiple restorations. Today pedestrians cross daily this bridge over Tormes River.
5. Casa Lis Museum
Casa Lis is the Museum of Art Nouveau and Art Deco. Its architecture is by itself is a splendid historical artifact dating from the 19th century. The building used to be the residence of Miguel de Lis, but today is owned by the city and houses an impressive collection of art pieces from the 19th and 20th century.
Tourists who plan on visiting this beautiful location, can rest at the museum’s café. They also have a small souvenir shop, so you can take a piece of it with you.
Eat & Drink Spanish Food
Salamanca, being headquarters for students, doesn’t lack bars, pubs, or restaurants. The cuisine blends in influences of the Mediterranean and the rest of Europe, however, the traditional Spanish delicacies are not hard to find. Head over to El Candil, Casa Paca, or Rio de la Plata for an abundance of authentic Castilian dishes.
One type of bars frequented by students on a budget should be on your adventure list. Shot bars. They don’t disappoint when it comes to prices and types of drinks you can pick. La Chupitería is one such bar, with shots starting from just 1 euro. After a few of them many choose to stay and enjoy their night at this location.
If you want to move on, however, Salamanca has some of the most interesting clubs. Camelot is a medieval themed bar and nightclub in a medieval building that used to be a chapel. You don’t even need to drink to feel like you’re in Westeros. They even have nights with live music. Another unique location is The Irish Theater, a favorite of students, that hosts themed parties, concerts, and other events. It runs as a nightclub, or as a chill bar during the day.
Shop in Salamanca
I am not going to focus on the fashion trends and expensive designer stores, which can all be found at Centro Comercial El Tormes, but on the more unique shops to visit in Salamanca, if you want to leave with something closer to the city’s heart.
The areas around this city are well known in Spain for their beautiful craft works. By visiting the surrounding villages, such as Zamora or Ciudad Rodrigo, you can find items that were created by hand by the locals, including handmade items from silver, ceramics, leather, and more. It can’t get more authentic than that.
If you don’t want to leave the city you can look for handmade decorations from Artesanía Hernández, a shop in the heart of Salamanca.
No matter if you want to spend your time partying, or if you just want to admire the surroundings, this city that seems to be somehow trapped in time will definitely exceed your expectations.