When I found out I was going to be studying in Salamanca, I had no idea where I was going. All I knew was that it was in Spain and I was stoked to finally be studying abroad. Before living in Salamanca, whenever I thought of Spain, Barcelona and Madrid were the cities that instantly came to mind. Now, Salamanca is my home away from how where I met incredible people and discovered the beauty of Spain culture.
In between the Spanish capital, Madrid, and the Portuguese border resides Salamanca – a hidden gem. It’s tucked away in the shadows of the capital and in the middle of vast dry land but is a must-go-to destination. This city has a family feel to it once you enter where the people are friendly and will always greet you. Once the residents see a new face, they make it their duty to spark at least once conversation with you, making it feel like home. If you are on the road, exploring Salamanca is the perfect place to have a pit stop. Not only is it a beautiful place but holds some of Spain’s important history.
In 1988, Salamanca became a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Act. This is because Salamanca has some of the oldest buildings in Spain in which the city wants to preserve. Since tourism is the city’s major source of income, it is pivotal that the city keeps its remaining gems in tack for others to see.
What To See
Universidad de Salamanca
Although there are two universities in the city, the Universidad de Salamanca is the city’s popular and most known university. It is the first university in all of Spain and the city takes great pride in its prestigious courses that the university has to offer. Being that it is held at such a high standard, many students from all over the country, and internationally, enroll into the university. Aside from its popularity, there have been many Spanish legacies who have walked down the same buildings current students do today increasing its popularity.
Painted in Gold
As you explore Salamanca, you will see the similar appearance within the buildings. Majority of its churches, towers and even the Universidad de Salamanca is made of a specific sandstone that is only found within the Castile-León region. This sandstone has a caramel and yellow tint to it which makes the city shine bright when the sun is out, which is why Salamanca is called “The Golden City”. From the distance, the city looks like it is illuminated and has a beautiful glow. Across the Tormes River, you can get the perfect view of this glow coming from the Salamanca Cathedral.
La Plaza Mayor
Aside from taking pride in having the oldest university in Spain, Salamanca’s Plaza Mayor is considered one of the most beautiful plazas in Spain. During the day, the square is tranquil and quiet as businesses start their day and people relax in the shade while drinking their morning coffee but at night, it completely transforms. As the sun goes down, families and friends come and gather together whether it is for dinner or to spend time together. The youth sit in the middle of the square eating ice creams, musicians come and play for guests eating at the restaurants and it becomes a party within itself.
The best part is watching the Plaza slowly light up as it hits the golden sandstone. It is so bright that it feels like the sun never went down.
Huerto de Calixto y Melibea
Huerto de Calixto y Melibea is a park that was based off of one of the most famous love stories in Spain, La Celestina. Hidden behind the city’s cathedral, the park’s garden has vibrant green tress and bushes with colorful flowers to go along with it. It’s staple piece is the well that has lockets on it which is attached by lovers who visit the park. Being that the park was built around a love story, it brings many couples to spend the evening together and embrace the romantic essence.
You can also capture breath-taking angles of the cathedral as it peaks through the leaves of the trees.
Once the sun goes down, that does not give you a reason to not explore Salamanca anymore. The city might be small but the night scene won’t disappoint you. As students flood the city all year, they make the party scene as lively as it can be. The locals embrace the youthful energy that these students bring and enjoy the night out with them. Starting from the Plaza Mayor, you will find promoters buzzing at every corner to get you to go to their club or bar – most of the time, they’ll convince you with a free drink or chupito. Once you walk down the small alley ways from the Plaza Mayor, there are endless bars and clubs that will make it difficult for you to choose. Although, one of the most popular one seems to be Camelot which always has great theme parties and music.
Before you know it, it’ll be five in the morning and you’ll wonder where the time went.
What to Drink
I am sure whenever you think of Spain, sangria comes to mind. Although it is a good drink, majority of the people who drink it in Spain are the tourists so before you decide to order a pitcher, here are some alternatives to drink while in Salamanca. If you want to have a drink similar to sangria, try tinto de verano with either an orange or lemon in it. It is a simple drink that only consists of red wine and a fizzy drink but on a hot day, it will be super refreshing. You can also go for a clarita, which is a combination of beer and a lemon-flavored fizzy drink. If you are not a fan of beer, this will lighten the taste of it – again, very refreshing.