13 things to see in Salamanca: the best attractions and things to do

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Martí Micolau

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references

City of north-western Spain and capital of the province of the same name, Salamanca is a sunny and joyful city with a history that takes you back to the Celtic period. Famous for her buildings built with sandstone and finely decorated, has a very ancient University and for this reason it is frequented by young people who come here to study and have fun.

Included in the Unesco World Heritage Sites, this location has many attractions to offer and is the ideal place to spend a weekend. So here it is things to see in Salamanca, a guide to the best attractions and things to do!


  1. Plaza Mayor
  2. New Cathedral
  3. Old Cathedral
  4. Casa de las Conchas
  5. Salamanca University
  6. Convent of San Esteban
  7. Huerto de Calixto y Melibea
  8. Casa Lis and Art Nouveau Museum
  9. Palace of La Salina
  10. Real Clerecia
  11. Central Market
  12. Roman bridge
  13. Domus Artium 2002
  14. Other attractions to visit
  15. 5 things to do in Salamanca
  16. User questions and comments

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1 - Plaza Mayor

Heart of the city, Plaza Mayor is one of the most fascinating squares in Europe, recognizable by its 88 arches that surround it, each decorated with relief medallions of important kings, poets and politicians. Among the buildings present here are the Town Hall Clock Tower, the Iglesia de San Martín Cathedral and the Liceo Theater.

Place frequented by young people who sit here on the ground on its large tiles to sunbathe and chat, this square, designed by the architect Alberto Churriguera, was built between 1729 and 1756. Featuring decorated sandstone, its shape appears square but in reality the sides are all of different lengths.

The best times to visit are sunrise and sunset, when a golden light is reflected on the red stone buildings, from which Salamanca has taken the nickname of "Golden City".

The heart of the historic center, 1,5 km from Salamanca central station (20 min walk). Alternatively, from station direct bus 1 to stop C / Gran Vía 45 (), then 5 min on foot to the square - Get directions.

You can rent ... a balcony! Plaza Mayor is the living room of the city, where bullfights are celebrated, processions, and in the past even justice has been done here. For this reason, some homeowners rented their balconies to spectators at quite high prices, to grant a privileged view to follow the event from above! For example, during the Fiesta de la Virgen de la Vega (first week of September) the square, like other places in the city, comes alive with sacred and profane events, concerts and processions.

2 - New Cathedral

Also known as the Cathedral of Santa Maria Dell'Assedio, it is located next to the Old one and was built in 1513, as the other was unable to accommodate all the faithful, increased due to the presence of the University

Its imposing appearance, decorated in Plateresque style with the addition of Gothic and Baroque styles, attracts millions of visitors every year. To admire the various chapels (Dorada, Todos los Santos and Nuestra Senora de la Soledad) but also the Baroque portals and bas-reliefs, in particular the one on the facade of the building which, according to some "rumors", would even portray ... an astronaut !

Climb the bell tower: during the 1755 Lisbon earthquake the bell tower was seriously damaged and the bells could only be rung by climbing to the top. To commemorate this tradition, on 31 October each year a character called the Marichelo, wearing the typical dress, climbs up to the bell tower and from there sings a typical Salamanca music, the Ciarrada. During your visit we advise you to go up to the bell tower and to the panoramic terrace, from which you can admire perhaps the most beautiful view of the historic center.

  • in the historic center, in Calle Benedicto XVI. It can be easily reached on foot from Plaza Mayor (550 m, 6 min). By public transport, the nearest stop is Avenida Villamayor (bus number 31) - Get directions
  • from October to March every day 10: 00-18: 00, from April to September 10: 00-20: 00
  • single ticket with the Old Cathedral, full € 6,00, reduced € 5,00

3 - Old Cathedral

Architectural masterpiece, even before being religious, the Old Cathedral shows all the signs of the passing of time, of the passage of the faithful, but without being kept in disastrous conditions, indeed. The medieval building came designed in a period of continual wars and its construction ended in 1180. Its walls, very safe, made it also air-raid shelter during the Spanish Civil War and it seems that Franco also came to take refuge here.

Inside there are wonderful works, such as the prestigious th century altarpiece by Nicolò Fiorentino, three important chapels (San Martìn, which was also a warehouse of oil for the cathedral lamps, Santa Barbara and Santa Catalina), adorned with frescoes.

  • in the historic center, in Plaza Juan XXIII. It can be easily reached on foot from Plaza Mayor (550 m, 6 min). By public transport, the nearest stop is Avenida Villamayor (bus number 31) - Get directions
  • October-March every day 10: 00-18: 00; April-September 10 am-00pm
  • € 6,00 full price, € 5,00 reduced single ticket with the new cathedral; € 3,00 is added for the Jeronimus route

4 - Casa de las Conchas

This palace is the most famous of Salamanca, not only for its beauty, but also because it has a remarkable symbolic value. In Gothic style, it dates back to 1493 and was the home of Rodrigo Maldonado de Talavera, a Knight of the Order of Santiago.

The building is best known for its Plateresque façade, decorated with more than 300 stone shells, which represented the main ornamental motif of the order of St. James of Santiago de Compostela. However, some believe that the presence of the shells is due to the love that Don Rodrigo felt for his wife Dona Maria. Also worth visiting is the main patio with Carrara marble columns, the modern library and the exhibition hall.

Look for the gold coin: according to the inhabitants of Salamanca, a gold coin is hidden behind one of the shells! While the basements of the building were the places where university students paid the penalties imposed by the teacher.

  • in the historic center, on Calle de la Compania. It can be reached on foot from Plaza Mayor (350 m, 4 min). If you travel by public transport, bus lines 3 and 4 stop Pza .Mercado - Get directions
  • Mon-Fri 9: 00-21: 00, Sat 9: 00-14: 00 and 16: 00-19: 00, Sun and holidays 10: 00-14: 00 and 16: 00-19: 00
  • free

5 - University of Salamanca

Salamanca's pride in its historical and artistic importance, was founded by the Lion King Alfonso IX and recognized as a university in the Carta Magna in 1254. Initially the seat of civil and canon law, it became for a period one of the most important in Europe.

Its external architecture fully shows all the virtues of Plateresque style, with a facade full of ornaments, of which the most beautiful part is that of the Eecuelas Mayores. The fresco painted on the ceiling of the University library is beautiful, which portrays the zodiac signs, constellations and planets. Thanks to the reflections of light coming from the large windows, the 12 signs of the zodiac seem to change color. Since the library is still in use today, taking pictures and making noise is prohibited.

Look for the fortune frog and the "blood writings"Here is a special lucky charm, a small frog, which should be on the facade of the front door. This little animal symbolizes the passing of time and the fleetingness of pleasures. According to the legend, if a student wanted to pass the exams he must first find the frog on the facade of the University, because "if you search without indication, it is a real mission".
Also, near the university you will notice some typical writings painted on the facade of the university buildings. In ancient times, graduates, to celebrate the victory over books and the end of their studies, painted sentences with bull's blood mixed with red earth and oil.

  • in the historic center, in Patio de Escuela. It can be reached on foot from Plaza Mayor (550 m, 7 min). The nearest stop is P. Rector Esperabè 29, where buses 4 and 8 pass - Get directions
  • Mon-Sat 10: 00-19: 00, Sun and holidays closed
  • free

6 - Convent of San Esteban

This imposing religious building located near the Old Cathedral is a Dominican monastery founded by one of the sons of the Duchess of Alba, in the th century, who over time it has been the home of famous people such as Christopher Columbus, Ignazio de Lovola, Diego di Deza.

Formed by a monumental church with a Latin cross plan, several convent rooms, three cloisters and the library, it has a beautiful facade of pink Villamayor stone with inlays, which shines in unique tones at sunset.

Inside, do not miss the altarpiece, the cloister, the museum dedicated to the Dominicans, the imposing staircase and the Profundis room where Christopher Columbus obtained the support of the Dominicans for his adventure which planned to arrive in the Americas via a new route. It is also possible to visit the confessionary of Santa Teresa, the founder of the Discalced Carmel, and the only woman who gave birth to a male religious order.

  • in the historic center, in the Plaza del Concilio. It can be reached on foot from Plaza Mayor (600 m, 7 min). The closest stop is C / Gran Via 75, where buses 1, 3, 4, 8 and 9 pass - Get directions
  • every day 10: 00-14: 00 and 16: 00-19: 00
  • full € 3,50, groups € 2,50

7 - Huerto de Calixto y Melibea

This beautiful garden is located near the center of Salamanca, on the ancient city walls and at the foot of the Tormes River, and owes its name to the protagonists of "Celestina", one of the most famous works of Spanish literature, written by Fernando De Rojas in 1299.

Within this garden of 2.500 square meters citizens spend hours of relaxation and tranquility and it is possible to admire the little one monument dedicated to Celestina, the woman accused in the novel of being a witch. In fact, on the base you can read the sentence: "I am an old woman, as God made me, no worse than others. Good or bad I live, and God is a witness of my heart". In addition to the statue at the entrance, in the Garden of Calisto and Melibea there is a fountain, a well, a pergola and numerous plants and trees that give this place an air of peace, tranquility and romance.

In the historic center, in Calle Arcediano. It can be reached on foot from Plaza Mayor (750 m, 8 min). By transport, the nearest stop is Plaza del Mercado Viejo, bus 4 and 8 - Get directions.

Learn about the history of Calixto and Melibea: the story tells that initially Calixto courts Melibea without attracting her, but then, with Celestina's tricks, Melibea falls madly in love. However, their love one day is doomed to tragically end as Calixto dies as she descends the stairs and Melibea commits suicide by jumping off the balcony after seeing Calixto dead. Despite the sad story, this park is the destination of many lovers, who hang a lock as a sign of their love.

8 - Casa Lis and Art Nouveau Museum

In the heart of the city is this house-museum housed in an ancient palace, which was built for Miguel de Lis, owner of a tannery, in 1905. Since the business was paying him a lot, Lis traveled a lot and on the occasion of these movements he had the opportunity to know the various artistic changes.

Today the house houses the Museum of Art Nouveau and Deco ed exhibits about 2.500 works among crystals, porcelain dolls, statues, enamels, bronzes, paintings, jewels divided into 19 collections of decorative arts dated between the end of the 800th century and the beginning of the 900th century. The museum also owns a large collection of Catalan paintings and local painters, like Celso Lagar and Mateo Hernandez, but the most famous piece is the Fabergè egg, an egg-shaped jewel made by the Russian jeweler Peter Carl Fabergè.

Stop in the coffee shop: we recommend having a coffee in the museum's wonderful café. You will be completely surrounded by large stained glass windows, from which you can also admire the city! A place that is certainly very instragrammable and different from the usual cafes in museums.

  • in the old town, in Gibraltar. It can be reached on foot from Plaza Mayor (750 m, 9 min). By transport, the nearest stop is Plaza del Mercado Viejo, bus 4 and 8 - Get directions
  • mar-dom 11:00-14:00 e 17:00-20:00
  • full € 5,00, reduced € 3,00, Thu 11: 00-14: 00 free

9 - Palazzo de La Salina

Current seat of the County Council, the Palacio de La Salina, also known as Palazzo dei Fonseca, dates back to 1538 and for many years it was a noble residence, before becoming a salt deposit in the first half of the th century. Its origins are uncertain, but what is certain is that this building was erected on the foundations of an old Gothic house and to make the palace even more magnificent they were carried out decorations with an Italian style.

The facade is very beautiful, but one of the strong points is certainly the courtyard with a portico inside dominated by a gallery with balconies and framed windows. The interiors feature coffered ceilings and ornate wood paneling.

Curiosity: The name la salina, according to the legend, derives from the fact that the archbishop Alonso de Fonseca who went to the city for a diocesan meeting had brought with him his lover, Juana Pimentel "La Salina". Because of the lady's name, no noble family wanted to host them, so the bishop, very angry, had this magnificent palace built and named after his lover.

  • in the historic center, in Calle San Pablo 18. It can be reached on foot from Plaza Mayor (250 m, 3 min). By public transport, the nearest stop is Poeta Iglesias 17, bus 1-8-9 - Get directions
  • mar-dom 11:30-13:30 e 18:00-21:00
  • free, only the patio is accessible

10 - Real Clerecia

Among the things not to be missed in Salamanca is this historic building, now the seat of the Pontifical University, dating back to the early th century and built by the will of Queen Margherita of Austria, wife of Philip III. The Clerecia it was a church and a school of the ecclesiastical order of the Society of Jesus and was originally known as the Royal College of the Society of Jesus.

Built in Baroque style, it includes a public part where there are the school and the church, with a large three-storey cloister, and a private area with the religious quarters. The peculiarity of this building is given by numerous galleries that connect various areas and were used for walking and being outdoors since there was no garden.

Today the Pontifical University is it can only be visited with guided and organized tours, which also include the ascent to the bell tower.

  • in the historic center, on Calle de la Compania. It can be reached on foot from Plaza Mayor (290 m, 3 min). By public transport, bus lines 3 and 4 stop Pza .Mercado - Get directions
  • only with guided tours
  • average cost € 10,00

11 - Central Market

The most classic example of the Spanish city market, a few steps from Plaza Mayor, the Mercado Central is housed in a th century Art Nouveau building designed by architect Joaquin de Vargas Aguirre, the same one who designed Casa Lis.

It is a historical place frequented by the inhabitants of Salamanca, who come here to buy very fresh and excellent products such as meat, cheeses, ham and wine. However, there are also stalls selling clothing and basic necessities. We recommend that you take a tour and then stop in one of the various tapas bars, to enjoy some great tapas.

  • in the historic center, in the Plaza del Mercado. It can be reached on foot from Plaza Mayor (130 m, 2 min). By public transport, Plaza Mercado stop of buses 3 and 4 - Get directions
  • Mon-Sat 8: 00-14: 00, Mon also 16: 00-19: 00, Tue and Fri 16: 00-20: 00, Sun closed
  • free

12 - Roman Bridge

The Puente Mayor del Tormes, known as the Roman Bridge of Salamanca was built around the first century AD, at the time of the Emperor Trajan, with the purpose of connecting the inner city with the outside, divided by the Tormes River. It is part of the Via dell'Argento, a road that connected Mérida and Astorga.

176 m long and 3,70 m wide, it is formed by 26 round arches and sturdy pillars and is protected by a statue of a bull of the pre-Roman era, which is also described in the famous book Lazarillo del Tormes. Famous people who crossed this bridge include Hannibal, Lazarillo and the French troops.

It is located in Puente de Sánchez Fabrés near the Art Nouveau and Art Déco Museum. It can be reached from Plaza Mayor on foot (1 km, 15 min), or by bus n.8 stop C. San Gregorio - Get directions.

Visit it at sunset: it is one of the most beautiful places to admire the sunset, so we suggest you arrive here at sunset to admire it in all its splendor, while in the distance the sun goes down behind the horizon and tinges the sky above Salamanca with red. You can take wonderful photos.

13 - Domus Artium 2002

In 2002 Salamanca came declared European Cultural Capital and, on that occasion, it was decided to realize a really important enterprise, both from the artistic-cultural point of view and from the touristic one: transform and renovate the old prison which has since become the Domus Artium museum.

Inside it is located a large collection of contemporary art, with collections of avant-garde works and exhibitions on new technologies. Inside the museum there is also a café, ideal for a snack or a light meal.

  • on Avenida de la Aldehuela, southeast of Salamanca, near the Parco de los Jesuitas. It can be reached from Plaza Mayor on foot (1,5 km, 18 min) or by bus 8 Abraham Zacut 6 stop, 4 min from the museum - Get directions
  • Tue-Fri 12:00 - 14:00 and 17:00 - 20:00, Sat-Sun 12: 00-15: 00 and 17: 00-21: 00, closed Mon
  • free

Other attractions to visit

If you have time left and you have seen all the previous attractions, we recommend you other attractions to see and visit, although of minor importance.

The facade of the Palcio de Monterrey is a fine example of Spanish Renaissance architecture, but the building is unfortunately closed to the public. Another building worth mentioning is the Palazzo di Orellana, seat of the Grand Archive of the Civil War (free) and the palace of Anaya, seat of the Faculty of Philology (free), wonderful example of the neoclassical of Salamanca.

The Convento de las Duenes, in a beautiful Moorish palace with a very impressive cloister (free), the Church of San Juan de Sahagún and the Church of San Tomas are less impressive Catholic religious buildings than the cathedral but with their own particular charm, which are worth a visit if time permits.

If you love cars and travel with children a suitable museum for you is the Automobile History Museum, with a permanent exhibition of 100 vehicles (€ 4,00); alternatively, for movie buffs the Castille and Leon Film Library is famous for the Fascinanting Devices collection (price based on events, see the official website). Finally, for those who want learn about bullfighting anecdotes and stories, we recommend the small but characteristic Bullfighting Museum, all to be discovered (€ 3,00), with numerous documents and ancient traditional clothes of the bullfighters.

5 things to do in Salamanca

  1. Have a coffee at Cafè Novelty: you cannot fail to sit at a table in the oldest café in Salamanca, in Plaza Mayor, which in the past hosted illustrious personalities such as Victor Garcia de las Conchas, Yosè Ortega y Gasset, Mario Verga Llosa and many others
  2. Attend the festivities of the Virgen de la Vega: in September there is a popular festival in honor of the Virgin, during which dances, shows and processions are organized
  3. Go to Tapear: the best way to taste some typical dishes of the city is to taste the tapas! At lunchtime, between 14pm and 00pm, many bars offer small portions of their specialties. In addition to Plaza Mayor, one of the most popular places is Calle Van Dick, full of typical bars
  4. Street art tour: walking in the Oreste district, not far from the historic center, you will come across the murals of the Galerìa Urbana. The artists have in fact painted empty walls, garage doors and even houses! This is the most colorful district of Salamanca
  5. Take a photo with the Lazarillo de Tormes: just before the Roman Bridge there is this sculpture dedicated to Lazarillo de Tormes, a famous Spanish novel but with an anonymous author. We cannot say that we have been to Salamanca without having immortalized this statue

Plan your stay in Salamanca: tips, flights and hotels

Salamanca is ideal for a weekend at any time of the year, but surely spring and autumn are the best seasons, because the temperature is less hot and more bearable. But if you want to experience an unforgettable atmosphere, summer is the perfect time because several festivals take place, like that of Jazz in the street, the international one of the Arts of Castilla and Leon. In September, then, there is the Feast of the Virgen de la Vega, with shows and an offering of flowers to the Madonna on 8 September.

To get there you have to do stopover in Madrid, and then continue by land from Madrid (compare flights). Once in town, the best way to get around is on foot, since the old town is small and most of the attractions are located here. Alternatively, urban transport is efficient. The city is quite cheap and there are structures of all types. We advise you to stay in the center (compare the best accommodations on Booking).

Salamanca is on a human and family scale! In addition to the things previously mentioned, visit the Parco de la Alamedilla, a garden with fountains and artificial lakes where swans and ducks wallow. Those looking for the nightlife, you will find most of the places to have a chupito or a cerveza near the Plaza Mayor and Plaza de San Juan Bautista.

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