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View of Salamanca
View of Salamanca
Flag of Salamanca
Coat of arms of Salamanca
Coat of arms
Location of Salamanca in Spain
Location of Salamanca in Spain
Coordinates: 40°58′N 5°40′W / 40.967°N 5.667°W / 40.967; -5.667
Autonomous communityCastile and León
 • MayorAlfonso Fernando Fernández Mañueco (Partido Popular)
 • Total38.6 km2 (14.9 sq mi)
Elevation802 m (2,631 ft)
Population (2010)
 • Totalmetropolitan:213,399 city:154,462
 • Density4,034/km2 (10,450/sq mi)
Time zoneCET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST)CEST (UTC+2)
Area code(s)34 (Spain) + 923 (Salamanca)
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For other places named Salamanca, see Salamanca (disambiguation).
View of Salamanca
View of Salamanca
Flag of Salamanca
Coat of arms of Salamanca
Coat of arms
Location of Salamanca in Spain
Location of Salamanca in Spain
Coordinates: 40°58′N 5°40′W / 40.967°N 5.667°W / 40.967; -5.667
Autonomous communityCastile and León
 • MayorAlfonso Fernando Fernández Mañueco (Partido Popular)
 • Total38.6 km2 (14.9 sq mi)
Elevation802 m (2,631 ft)
Population (2010)
 • Totalmetropolitan:213,399 city:154,462
 • Density4,034/km2 (10,450/sq mi)
Time zoneCET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST)CEST (UTC+2)
Area code(s)34 (Spain) + 923 (Salamanca)
Old Cathedral, Salamanca, built in the 12th century
New Cathedral of Salamanca, built in the 16th century
Monterrey Palace (16th century)
Tower del Clavero (15th century)

Salamanca (Spanish pronunciation: [salaˈmaŋka]) is a city in northwestern Spain, the capital of the Province of Salamanca in the community of Castile and León. Its Old City was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. With a metropolitan population of 228,881 in 2012 according to the National Institute of Statistics (INE), Salamanca is the second most populated urban area in Castile and León, after Valladolid (414,000), and ahead of Leon (187,000) and Burgos (176,000).

It is one of the most important university cities in Spain and supplies 16% of Spain's market for the teaching of the Spanish language.[1][2] Salamanca attracts thousands of international students,[3] generating a diverse environment.

It is situated approximately 200 kilometres (124 miles) west of the Spanish capital Madrid and 80 km (50 mi) east of the Portuguese border. The University of Salamanca, which was founded in 1134, is the oldest university in Spain and the fourth oldest western university, but the first to be given its status by the Pope Alexander IV who gave universal validity to its degrees. With its 30,000 students, the university is, together with tourism, a primary source of income in Salamanca.


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 3rd century BC, Beto laid siege to the city. With the fall of the Carthaginians to the Romans, the city of Helmantica, as it was known, began to take more importance as a commercial hub in the Roman Hispania due to its favorable location. Salamanca lay on a Roman road, known as the Vía de la Plata, which connected it with Emerita Augusta (present day Mérida) to the south and Asturica Augusta (present-day Astorga) to the north. Its Roman bridge dates from the 1st century, and was a part of this road.

With the fall of the Roman Empire, the Alans established in Lusitania, and Salamanca was part of this region. Later the city was conquered by the Visigoths and included in their territory. The city was already an episcopal see, and signatures of bishops of Salamanca are found in the Councils of Toledo.

Salamanca surrendered to the Moors, led by Musa bin Nusair, in the year 712 AD. For years this area between the south of Duero River and the north of Tormes River, became the main battlefield between the Christian kingdoms and the Muslim Al-Andalus rulers. The constant fighting of the Kingdom of León first, and the Kingdom of Castile and León later against the Caliphate depopulated Salamanca and reduced it to an unimportant settlement. After the battle of Simancas (939) the Christians resettled this area. After the capture of Toledo by Alfonso VI of León and Castile in 1085, the definitive resettlement of the city took place. Raymond of Burgundy, instructed by his father-in-law Alfonso VI of León, led a group of settlers of various origins in 1102.

One of the most important moments in Salamanca's history was the year 1218, when Alfonso IX of León granted a royal charter to the University of Salamanca, although formal teaching had existed at least since 1130. Soon it became one of the most significant and prestigious academic centres in Europe.

During the 16th century the city reached its height of splendor (around 6,500 students and a total population of 24,000). During that period the University of Salamanca hosted the most important intellectuals of the time; these groups of mostly-Dominican scholars were designated the School of Salamanca. The juridical doctrine of the School of Salamanca represented the end of medieval concepts of law, and founded the fundamental body of the ulterior European law and morality concepts, including rights as a corporeal being (right to life), economic rights (right to own property) and spiritual rights (rights to freedom of thought and rights related to intrinsic human dignity).

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 Catholic doctrine. Vesalius came to Salamanca that same year to appear before the board and was acquitted.

Salamanca suffered the general downturns of the Kingdom of Castile during the 17th century, but in the 18th century it experienced a rebirth. In this period the new baroque Cathedral and main square (Plaza Mayor) were finished.

In the Peninsular War of the Napoleonic campaigns, the Battle of Salamanca, fought on 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.

Salamanca City map in 1858, Spanish edition

During the devastating Spanish Civil War (1936-9) the city quickly went over to the Nationalist side and was temporarily used as a capital. The Nationalists soon moved their capital to Burgos, which being larger and more central was better suited for this purpose. Like much of fervently Catholic and largely rural Castille, Salamanca was a staunch supporter of the Nationalist side and Francisco Franco's regime for its long duration.

In 1988 the old city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 1998 it was declared a European Capital of Culture for year 2002 (shared with Bruges). During 14 and 15 October 2005 it hosted the XV the Ibero-American Summits of Heads of State and Governments.

Since 1996 Salamanca has been the designated site of the archives of the Spanish Civil War (Archivo General de la Guerra Civil Española). The original documents were 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.[4] The socialist government moved the Catalan part of the archive to Barcelona in 2006 despite opposition from the local authorities and popular protests.

Main sights[edit]

The Old City of Salamanca was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988.

Old quarter of the city
Irish Collegec/ Fonseca, 2
Iglesia de San Marcosc/ Zamora - Plaza del Ejército
Iglesia de Sancti SpiritusSancti Spiritus, 34
Convento de las Clarasc/ de Santa Clara, 2 y 12; c/ del Lucero 2 y 18
Casa-Convento de Santa Teresac/ Crespo Rascón, 19
Iglesia de San Juan de BarbalosPl. San Juan Bautista, 2 - c/ Luis Sevillano, 2
Iglesia de San CristobalPlaza de San Cristobal, 8

Sightseeing in the city, many of them within the old quarter, are:

Squares and public spaces[edit]

The city hall of Salamanca near the terrace of the Café Novelty founded in 1905.
Façade of the church of La Clerecía.
Convento de las Agustinas e Iglesia de la Purísima.
Colegio de San Ambrosio, is currently the General Archive of the Spanish Civil War
Palacio de Anaya
Casa de las Conchas (House of the Shells)
La Salina Palace

Religious buildings[edit]

University buildings[edit]

Palaces and palatial houses[edit]


Exterior of the Art Nouveau and Art Deco Museum. Casa Lis.

It is accessed from the last tower, next to the gate of Santa Lucía (giving access to the old cathedral). In three of the rooms one can find exposed drawings, documents and religious objects related to the cathedrals; especially with its construction, one can see, both inside and outside the two cathedrals. From the "Sala del Alcaide" enjoy a splendid view of the nave and the altar of the old cathedral, and from the upper platform located thereupon, one may accurately observe the Tower del Gallo, as well as views of the Tormes and Transtormes neighborhoods. One may also enjoy the vaults of the new cathedral, and again on the outside with views of the plaza Anaya, the Tower del Reloj, the Rua Mayor and all of the historical centre.



Plateresque façade of the University of Salamanca.
Detail of the facade of the University of Salamanca: the toad on the skull
Detail of the facade of the University of Salamanca: the catholic monarchs

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.[when?] In the 16th century, 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 Vásquez de Coronado was born in Salamanca.)

It was scholars of the University such as Francisco de Vitoria who, heavily influenced by the Paris-based Scottish philosopher John Mair, helped design in 1512 the Laws of Burgos which established the right to life and liberty of the indigenous peoples of America.

Ignatius Loyola, while studying at Salamanca in 1527, was brought before an ecclesiastical commission on a charge of sympathy with the Illuminati, but escaped with a warning. In the next generation St. John of the Cross studied at Salamanca and so did the poet and writer Mateo Aleman. Miguel de Unamuno was a prominent figure of the university in more modern times.

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 36,000 students, approximately). The support of the student population is one of the most important economic activities in the city. These young people (including international students studying the Spanish language) provide Salamanca with a highly active night life, especially when school is in session on both weekdays and weekends. Among the American universities that sponsor significant summer semester programs are the University of Connecticut, Wake Forest University, Lamar University of Beaumont,Texas, Lamar State College of Port Arthur,Texas and the University of Georgia. This has led Salamanca to be at the top of lists of cities with the highest bar per inhabitant ratios in Europe, second only to Bilbao .[citation needed]


The city lies on several hills 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 a 16th-century reconstruction after a flood.


Salamanca has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate (Csb in the Koeppen climate classification), with cool winters, and warm dry summers due to the altitude.

Climate data for Salamanca
Record high °C (°F)18.0
Average high °C (°F)7.9
Average low °C (°F)−0.7
Record low °C (°F)−13.4
Precipitation cm (inches)3.1
Avg. precipitation days66578532477766
Source: Agencia Española de Meteorología (1971-2000 climatology)[5]


Founded in 1812, S.A. Mirat, is claimed to be the city's oldest industrial business.

The city's economy is dominated by the university and tourism, but other sectors including agriculture and livestock rearing along with construction and manufacturing are also significant. Not surprisingly, in December 2007 83% of the working population, equivalent to 55,838, were employed in the service sector.[6]

Agriculture and livestock rearing[edit]

The 125 agricultural sector businesses accounted for 839 workers in 2007, or just 1.24% of the working population.


Industrial activity accounted for 5% of the working population, or 3,340 workers employed over 360 businesses.[6] Two of the largest businesses, both of them numbered among the largest 100 enterprises in the region, are the veterinary vaccine manufacturer "Laboratorios Intervet", and the fertilizer specialist manufacturers S.A. Mirat, which is the city's oldest industrial company, having been established originally as a starch factory in 1812.[7]


A street of the old city of Salamanca


Renfe has trains to national destinations like Madrid, Valladolid, Zaragoza, while international destinations are Paris (via Irun) and Lisbon via Guarda, Portugal. Until 1984 it was possible to travel by train to Porto and Lisbon via the Douro railway line, but the cross-border section east of Pocinho is now closed.



Old Roman Bridge (1st century BC)

Other roads


Salamanca Airport, located in the military base of Matacán, is located about 14 km (9 mi) east of the city. There are regular flights to Barcelona, Paris, and charter flights to Palma de Mallorca and the Canary Islands. In the summer there are also regular flights to Palma de Mallorca, Menorca, Gran Canaria, Málaga and Ibiza.

Public transport[edit]

There are 13 bus lines during the day and one night line. Also, a tram line has been projected.[8]

Culture and sports[edit]

UNESCO World Heritage Site
Old City of Salamanca
Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List
Salamanca Cathedral
Criteriai, ii, iv
UNESCO regionEurope and North America
Inscription history
Inscription1988 (12th Session)

The Old City of Salamanca was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. In 2002 Salamanca shared the title of European Capital of Culture with Bruges. In 2005, Salamanca celebrated the 250 anniversary of the construction of the Plaza Mayor with a number of European events (Plaza Mayor de Europa). Salamanca is a popular tourist destination, especially in the Summer. Tourism is the primary economic activity in the city, along with the revenue generated from a constant influx of foreign university students learning Spanish.


Holy Week procession in Salamanca

Holy Week[edit]

The Holy Week in Salamanca (Semana Santa) is the most well-known of Salamanca's festivals. Salamanca is renowned for the solemn and sober processions celebrated during Holy Week. 16 confraternities, 10.000 brothers or "cofrades", 50 floats or "pasos" celebrate the Passion of Christ with 20 processions and thousands of followers, tourist and visitors. Some of the celebrations have been performed for centuries. The confraternities carry artistic pasos created by important Spanish artists such as Luis Salvador Carmona, Alejandro Carnicero or Mariano Benlliure. in 2003 the Semana Santa of Salamanca obtained the official declaration of International Touristic Interest.[9]

Lunes de Aguas[edit]

Another 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 closed and Salmantinos picnic in the countryside to eat a kind of meat pie called hornazo.


Salamanca is also famous throughout Spain and the rest of Europe for its celebrations of "Nochevieja Universitaria," loosely translated as "University New Year".[10] It is usually held on the Thursday of the last week of school in December and two weeks before the real New Year's Eve. On this day, students congregate in the Plaza Mayor, Salamanca to watch free performances and take part in the countdown to midnight. This tradition was started spontaneously by a few college students who wanted to celebrate New Year's Eve with their friends first before spending the real one with their families at home. Since then, students from all around Spain have been flocking to Salamanca to enjoy the festivities with their friends, making it one of the largest annual events in Salamanca.


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. In 2013, the sport club went bankrupted and its activities were abandoned.[11]


Salamanca has been shown in the cinema many times. Its old streets are the perfect setting for historic productions. Among some international films should be mentioned 1492: Conquest of Paradise by Ridley Scott and Goya's Ghosts by Miloš Forman. Salamanca was the setting for the 2008 political thriller Vantage Point, although the movie was almost exclusively filmed in Mexico.


Salamanca has a very interesting and distinctive gastronmy. Among many dishes, Chanfaina is very popular: steamed rice with pork; Another classic dish of the Salamancan, known as Charreria ("peasant lands"), is a cocido, a slow-cooked casserole including chickpeas. However, Hornazo is the most popular dish of all.

Twin towns — Sister cities[edit]

Salamanca is twinned with:


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Noticias - Salamanca: enseñanza de español mueve 46 millones de euros". El Castellano. Retrieved 2011-08-17. 
  2. ^ Spanish in Salamanca
  3. ^ "La USAL inaugura los cursos de verano con 2.000 estudiantes extranjeros". Retrieved 2011-08-17. 
  4. ^ [1][dead link]
  5. ^ "Monthly Averages for Salamanca, Spain". Agencia Española de Meteorología. Retrieved 2009-10-20. 
  6. ^ a b "Salamanca - Datos Económicos y Sociales". 2009. Retrieved 2011-08-17. 
  7. ^ "MIRAT Historia Antecedentes". Retrieved 2011-08-17. 
  8. ^ EUROPA PRESS. 09.06.2008 (2008-05-16). "Presentan un estudio de viabilidad para la implantación del tranvía en Salamanca". Retrieved 2011-08-17. 
  9. ^ Easter | Salamanca. Retrieved on 2013-09-05.
  10. ^ University New Year
  11. ^ La RFEF desciende a la UDS por las deudas con los futbolistas - UDS -Noticias de La Gaceta de Salamanca. (2013-06-29). Retrieved on 2013-09-05.

External links[edit]


Coordinates: 40°57′42″N 5°40′03″W / 40.961612°N 5.667607°W / 40.961612; -5.667607