The University of Salamanca is one of those magical places that transports you back in time as soon as you cross its walls. Founded in 1218, this Spanish jewel is one of the oldest universities in Europe, second only to Oxford and Bologna. More than 800 years of history, thought and, of course, student parties. It is not only a place of study; it is a living monument where past and present coexist in an almost poetic balance. Every corner tells a story, every stone bears the marks of generations of students
Now, entering a little more into the academic realm, the University of Salamanca is famous for its programs in Law, Philology and, more recently, in technological areas. But, of course, its historical weight is very noticeable in humanistic subjects. Walking through its corridors, you come across plaques, sculptures and paintings that tell pieces of the history of Spain and Europe.
Regarding its architecture, it is one of those that make you take out your cell phone every two steps to take a picture. The most emblematic building is the facade of the university, a stone altarpiece full of figures and various scenes. And now a little tip: look for the frog on the facade. It is a kind of tradition and they say it gives you luck in your studies if you manage to find it. It’s not easy, but that’s what makes it fun.
The Patio de Escuelas is another corner that you will love. It’s a Renaissance-style courtyard where students meet, discuss or just hang out. And if you like libraries, you can’t miss the Biblioteca General Histórica. Its shelves are filled with manuscripts dating from the 12th to the 19th century. Just walking into the library is enough to make you feel like you’re in a magical place (it reminds me of Hogwarts).
Having said all this, the university life is also a highlight. Salamanca is a student city, which means there is always something to do. Bars, cafes, cultural events… and I’m not forgetting the parties. Students know how to celebrate, whether it’s San Juan de Sahagún, the patron saint of the city, or simply the end of exams. And speaking of traditions, University New Year’s Eve, held a few weeks before the actual New Year’s Eve, is a party that brings thousands of students together in the Plaza Mayor. It is not an experience for everyone, but if you like that vibe, I assure you that you will have a great time.
However, if you decide to study here or you are simply on vacations in Spain, don’t just go to the University. Salamanca has much more to offer. The Plaza Mayor, the Old and New Cathedral, the Casa de las Conchas… are places that will enrich your Salamanca experience.
What to do in Salamanca?
You have already visited the famous university What to do in Salamanca? Although the campus is impressive, the city itself is rich in culture, history and nightlife. Salamanca offers a mix of old and new. Between its historic architecture and its cultural and nightlife, there is something for everyone. So, whether you’re into history, gastronomy or partying, Salamanca has a corner waiting for you
Let’s start with the Plaza Mayor, the heart of the city. This is where it all happens, both day and night. During the day, you’ll find terraces of bars and restaurants, perfect for enjoying a beer and tapas while watching the atmosphere. At night, it becomes the epicenter of nightlife, especially for students. In addition, the square is a jewel of baroque architecture, so it is also perfect for a few photos.
A few steps from the Plaza Mayor is the Casa de las Conchas. If you like legends and symbolism, this is a place you have to visit. The facade is decorated with more than 300 shells, a symbol of the Order of Santiago. It is said that there is a golden shell hidden among them, but so far, no one has found it. Who knows, maybe you will be the lucky one to find it!
You can’t leave Salamanca without visiting the cathedrals. Yes, in plural, because there are two that are united. The Old Cathedral is Romanesque in style and houses impressive medieval frescoes. The New Cathedral, meanwhile, is a Gothic and Renaissance spectacle. A curious detail is the astronaut sculpted on one of its doors; a modern addition that has generated all kinds of urban legends. Both cathedrals offer panoramic views of the city if you dare to climb their towers.
If you are one of those who enjoy a nice walk, head to the Roman Bridge that crosses the Tormes River. From there you have a spectacular view of the city, especially at sunset. In addition, there is a small park next to the river where you can have a picnic and relax.
Leaving aside the emblematic places, let’s talk about gastronomy. Salamanca is a gem for food lovers. The region’s Iberian ham is top quality. If you can, pay a visit to a local factory to see the curing process and, of course, try some slices. The hornazo, a kind of empanada filled with pork, egg and chorizo, is another local delicacy not to be missed. And to accompany it, nothing like a good wine from the region.
If you are more into nightlife, Salamanca will not disappoint you. Calle Van Dyck is famous for its tapas bars and young atmosphere. For something quieter, the area around the Plaza Mayor offers a wide variety of bars of all tastes and styles. And if you like alternative settings, look for the caves-turned-bars near the river. They are unique spaces that offer a different experience.
Now, a personal tip: don’t limit yourself to the tourist sites. Salamanca, as we have already said, is a student city, which means there are always events, exhibitions and festivals. Check the local agenda and immerse yourself in the cultural life of the city. You might discover a local band at a live concert, or stumble upon a contemporary art exhibition in an unexpected corner. These experiences are the true essence and charm of the city, something that if you like to travel and get lost in those magical places that are not on the maps, you will surely love.