Salamanca (population 160,000) is a city in western Spain, the capital of the province of Salamanca, which belongs to the autonomous community (region) of Castile and Leon (Castilla y León).


The city lies on a mountain by the Tormes River, which is crossed by a bridge 150 m long built on 26 arches, fifteen of which are of Roman origin, while the remainder date from the 16th century.


The city was founded in the pre-Ancient Rome period by the Vacceos, a Celtic tribe, as one of a pair of forts to defend their territory near the Duero river. In the third century BC, Hannibal laid siege to the city. With the fall of the Carthaginians to the Romans, the city began to take more importance as a commercial hub. At this time it was called Helmantica or Salmantica.Fact|date=March 2007

Salamanca surrendered to the Moors in the year 712AD. The defensive city wall was strengthened, with the Mozarabs (Christians under Muslim rulers) were relegated to living outside of it. It was, however, a time of constant fighting with the Astur-Leonese kingdoms, and the city was trapped on the line between Christian North and Muslim South, with the city being evacuated, as part of the depopulated no-man's land between the two sides. Christian forces, led by Ramón de Borgoa, son-in-law of Alfonso VI of Castile, retook the city in the twelfth century.

One of the most important moments in Salamanca's history was the year 1218, when Alfonso IX created the University of Salamanca. Soon it became one of the most significant and prestigious academic centres in Europe. []

In the Peninsular War of the Napoleonic campaigns, the Battle of Salamanca, fought July 22, 1812, was a serious setback for the French, and a mighty setback for Salamanca, whose western quarter was seriously damaged. The battle which raged that day is famous as a defining moment in military history; many thousands of men were slaughtered by cannon fire in the space of only a few short hours.

Main sights

Salamanca is considered one of the most spectacular Renaissance cities in Europe. Through the centuries the sandstone buildings have gained an exquisite golden glow that has given Salamanca the nickname "La Ciudad Dorada", the golden city. This golden glow is unique in Spain and is due to the "Villamayor Stone", a type of sandstone coming from a quarry situated in Villamayor, a village close to Salamanca.

The Plaza Mayor is the central square in the city and is known as the living room of the "Salmantinos" (Salamancans). It was constructed by Andrés García de Quiñones at the beginning of the 18th century. The plaza has a capacity of 20,000 people and is surrounded by shaded arcades. The plaza was originally a venue for bullfights but is currently used primarily for concerts. The plaza is regarded as one of the finest squares in Europe. Next to Main Square we can see the Central Market of Salamanca with typical fresh products of Spain.

The old Romanesque cathedral was founded in the 12th century. The dome that covers its crossing springs from a double arcade that is daringly pierced with windows, a distant reflection of Hagia Sophia. The mass of four pinnacles at the outside corners counter the thrust of the dome's weight. The thrust of the vaulting is borne by four massive pinnacles. The vault of the apse was frescoed by the Early Renaissance painter Nicolas Florentino. The adjoining "new" cathedral was built in stages from 1509 and combines Late Gothic architecture, particularly in the interior, with the Renaissance style called Plateresque. It was still being finished in 1734. In the treasury is the bronze crucifix that was carried into battle before El Cid.

The Augustinian monastery contains the tomb of the count and countess de Monterrey, by Alessandro Algardi.

Since 1996 Salamanca has been the designated site of the archive of the Spanish Civil War ("Archivo General de la Guerra Civil Española"). This archive was assembled by the Francoist regime, selectively obtained from the administrative departments of various institutions and organizations during the Spanish Civil War as a repressive instrument used against opposition groups and individuals. [] The socialist government moved the Catalan part of the archive to Barcelona in 2006 despite opposition from the local authorities and popular protests. Salamanca's mayor, Julian Lanzarote (PP), changed the name of the street where the archive is located from "Gibraltar" to "El expolio" ("the plundering") in February 2006.

In 1551 the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V ordered an inquiry to find out if the science of Andreas Vesalius, physician and anatomist, was in line with the Catholic doctrine. Vesalius came to Salamanca that same year to appear before the board and was acquitted.

Culture and sports

Infobox World Heritage Site
WHS = Old City of Salamanca

State Party = ESP
Type = Cultural
Criteria = i, ii, iv
ID = 381
Region = Europe and North America
Year = 1988
Session = 12th
Link =
In 2002 Salamanca shared the title of European Capital of Culture with Bruges. Salamanca is a popular tourist destination, especially in the summer. Tourism is the primary economic activity in the city.

Salamanca offers the amenities of a larger city while retaining an intimate small town atmosphere. Since 1923, "Los Charros", formally the Union Deportiva Salamanca, have been the Salamanca football team.

Salamanca was the setting for the 2008 political thriller Vantage Point, although the movie was almost exclusively filmed in Mexico.

The classic dish of the Salamancan, known as "Charreria" ("peasant lands"), is a "cocido", a baked casserole of garbanzo beans.

A traditional Salmantinian celebration is the "Lunes de Aguas", "Water Monday", the Monday after the Sunday following Easter. Originally this served to celebrate the official allowance of the authorities for the prostitutes to return to the city after Lent and Easter. All the shops close and Salmantinos picnic in the countryside to eat a kind of pie called "hornazo".


In 1218, Alfonso IX of León founded the University of Salamanca. Under the patronage of the learned Alfonso X, its wealth and reputation greatly increased (1252-1282), and its schools of canon law and civil law attracted students even from the Universities of Paris and Bologna. At the height of the university, in the 16th century, one in five of Salamanca's residents was a studentFact|date=March 2007, and the city's fortunes depended on those of the university. About the time Christopher Columbus was lecturing there on his discoveries, Hernán Cortés took classes at Salamanca, but returned home in 1501 at age 17, without completing his course of study. (About ten years later the "conquistador" Francisco Vázquez de Coronado was born in Salamanca.) It was scholars of the University, heavily influenced by the Paris-based Scottish philosopher John Mair, who established in Spanish law (at the Council of Burgos, 1512) the right to life and liberty of the indigenous peoples of America - perhaps the first ever international statement of human rights. Miguel de Unamuno was a student here as was Miguel de Cervantes. Ignatius Loyola, while studying at Salamanca in 1527, was brought before an ecclesiastical commission on a charge of sympathy with the "alumbrados", but escaped with an admonition. In the next generation St. John of the Cross studied at Salamanca and so did the poet and writer Mateo Aleman.

Many people continue to come from all parts of Spain to study at the University, and the students represent a significant percentage of the city's population (the University has 36000 students, approximately). The support of the student population is one of the most important economic activities in the city. These young people (also consisting of international students studying the Spanish language) provide Salamanca with a highly active night life, specially when school is in session on both weekdays and weekends. This has led Salamanca to be in the top list of cities with the highest bar per inhabitant ratios in Europe, second to Bilbao.

Town twinning

* Coimbra, Portugal
* Nimes, France
* Würzburg, Germany
* Bruges, Belgium
* Cambridge, UK


See also

* Salmantinos (Latin for 'people/things from Salamanca'; several specific uses)
* Salmanticenses (Is another denomination for the 'people/things from Salamanca'; it is less used than the one above.)

External links

* [ Official Tourist Information Office]
* [ Wiki of the city of Salamanca]

* []

* [ Tourism and travel information about Salamanca]
* [ Free Pictures of Salamanca]
* [ Students' Association Juan Bosco]
* [ Central Market of Salamanca]

Museums (among many other without a webpage):
* [ Art Nouveau and Art Decó Museum]
* [ Car History Museum]
* [ Cathedral Museum]

Electronic editions of local newspapers:
* [ El Adelanto de Salamanca]
* [ La Gaceta de Salamanca]
* [ Tribuna de Salamanca]
* [ La Voz de Salamanca]
* [ Salamanca News]

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