Spain is a country steeped in culture and history and many beautiful cities are often overlooked. One example is Salamanca, it is about 120 miles west of Madrid and perfect for a weekend break. The city is a treasure trove of well-preserved monuments, turreted palaces, convents, churches, and colleges that attract scholars from all over the world. A place where the bustle of the university beats non-stop making the city feel exuberant, youthful, and welcoming.
First impressions are everything and Salamanca’s beauty is immediate. Its attractions are plentiful. It offers something for everyone and although we have visited, three times, we keep going back and each time we stay in the Parador.
It is located on the left bank, on a hill opposite the old quarter. The views are magnificent perhaps even more beautiful at night when the cathedral and old town are lit up. The interior of the Parador is comfortable and spacious, decorated with marble and feels very elegant.
The best way to explore Salamanca is on foot from the hotel, we walked across the Roman Bridge to the old town.
On the way, we passed the University, the oldest in Spain and third oldest in the world, built in 1134. Like many tourists, we stared at the façade. We were looking for the frog, if you squint hard enough, you may be able to find it amidst the intricate carvings, and if you do, you will have good luck.
Walk for just a couple more minutes and you come to La Catedral Vieja, (the Old Cathedral), an imposing structure surrounded by gardens, and walls etched with similar carvings to the University. Salamanca has two cathedrals, the old, and the new, the new is not exactly “new”. It was built between the 16th and 18th centuries and hidden amongst the carvings is an astronaut and a gargoyle eating an ice cream. It turns out both were added by the craftsmen doing restoration work in 1992. You can climbed to the top of the tower and take in the breath-taking view of Salamanca’s rooftops and bustling cobbled streets.
Turn a corner wander down a narrow side street, and you find a medieval garden, Huerto de Calixto y Melibea.
A great place to stop at one of the many establishments and enjoy a beverage while people watching is the Plaza Mayor. It is a picturesque square, with 88 arches and decorated with the faces of famous historical figures. While its peace and beauty are seducing you, it is hard to imagine that it was once used for something as violent as bullfighting.
The 15th-century Casa de las Conchas looks stunning and is home to the public library. It is famous for its façade of 400 scallop shells, but I never tried to count them.
We headed to Casa de Lis, Museum of Art Nouveau and Art Deco. We were really looking forward to this and it lived up to expectations. The glass ceiling was something to see, as was the jewellery display. It is a must for anyone wanting to glimpse fashion in the past as it is a monument to 1920’s.
There is no shortage of eating options in Salamanca and many bars and restaurants stay open until the early hours.
From the hotel patio, we watched the sunset cast a golden glow on the cathedral and the city walls. The sky glowed orange and the streetlights twinkled as we finally made our way through the garden, past a small fountain and back to our room. These are moments of unimaginable beauty we will never forget.