Salamanca is a city in western Spain situated about 50 miles (80 kms) from the Portuguese border. The old part of the city was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988.
The city has many buildings of architectural note, a large number of them being built of sandstone, earning Salamanca the nickname, La Ciudad Dorada, the golden city. The sandstone is quarried at Villamayor, near to Salamanca, and is unique in the golden glow it produces when the sun is shining on it.
Salamanca has two cathedrals, the old cathedral being an example of the Romanesque style, and the new cathedral which is mainly constructed in the Gothic style. During renovation work on the old cathedral in 1993, the stonemasons were told to carve some modern symbols on the walls and, if you look carefully, you can find the carving of an astronaut and a frog amid the many older and more traditional stonework reliefs. Something to occupy the children for a while perhaps.
The University of Salamanca has the distinction of being the oldest in Spain, having been established in 1218. Many famous Spaniards have studied there including Christopher Columbus, Miguel de Cervantes and Hernando Cortes. The architecture of the old part of the university is an example of Spanish renaissance architecture called “plateresque” after the resemblance to the detail of a silversmith’s engraving.
Night life in Salamanca is not as hectic as in some of the Spanish coastal resorts but there are still plenty of bars and restaurants to choose from, some of them open until 6 am. In the main square, the Plaza Mayor, there are often student entertainers, tunos, who dress in medieval costumes and serenade the customers in the bars and restaurants surrounding the square.