Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A short break in historic Salamanca, Spain

During our most recent trip to Madrid, we hopped on a train to Salamanca for an overnight stay in this wonderful university city. Less than three hours by train from Madrid's Chamartin station, Salamanca is easily accessible and well worth a visit as hopefully our photos will show. Spanish trains are great, clean, bright, lots of baggage space and they even have power connection in the seats to charge your portable digital devices.

We stayed overnight in the hotel Rua Salamanca, which is a matter of minutes from the impressive Plaza Mayor. Great value, good breakfast and the best welcome we've had in a Spanish hotel. The staff are very helpful and only too happy to explain all you need to know about the city. The rooms are spacious and give you the feeling of being in someone's home rather than a characterless hotel.

Inside the Rua Salamanca
Salamanca is said to be Spain's finest showcase of Renaissance and Plateresque architecture. Pre-eminent among its artists and master craftsmen of later years were the Churriguera brothers. Their work can be seen in many of Salamanca's golden stone buildings, notably in the Plaza Mayor.

Entering the Plaza Mayor

A very quiet Plaza Mayor
The Plaza Mayor is one of Spain's grandest city squares. On the east side is the Royal Pavilion which is decorated with a bust of Felipe V, who built the square. As you'd expect the Plaza is surrounded by bars and restaurants where you can enjoy the view and relax for a lot less than the prices in Madrid's namesake.

Casa de las Conchas

These days, apart from tourists, Salamanca is bustling with students from the university as well as its language schools. The university was founded in 1218, making it the oldest in Spain, the University buildings are truly impressive. Above you can see the Casa de las Conchas, taking its names from the golden stone scallop shells that cover most of its walls. The Casa houses the university library.

Torre del Clavero
The tower in the photo above is the last vestige of a palace than once stood here which was built around 1480. It stands opposite the House of the Dead, Casa de las Muertes, which takes its name from the small skulls that embellish its facade.

Casa de las Muertes

The city is home to two Cathedrals, Catedral Vieja (built in the 12th - 13th century) and Catedral Nueva built in the 16th - 18th century). The new cathedral was built alongside its predecessor and you can enter the Old through the New. The latter version combines a mix of architectural styles, mainly Gothic with Renaissance and Baroque additions, the original is Romanesque. You'll leave the two catehdrals inspired by the beauty of the architecture and the history, especially of the Catedral Vieja.

Catedral Nueva

The dome inside Catedral Nueva

Inside Catedral Vieja

For something from a very different period to most of the wonderful architecture of Salamanca, take some time to vist the Art Deco museum, as well as housing some beautiful works of art it has a great cafe with lovely coffee and delicious pastries...highly recommended.

Salamanca's Art Deco museum

Salamanca has to be one of Spain's most beautiful cities, the old town is not too large so a couple of days is all you really need to really sample all that the city has to offer. We were only there for one and left having had a fantastic time. To end this post a few more photos of this great city, hasta luego Salamanca.

Salud, from Plaza Mayor