Salamanca isn’t a natural tourist stop, it doesn’t tend to find its way into the “Valencia, Seville, Madrid guidebook must see’s” but it really should be. We both confess to being ignorant of its vibrancy and style. It is known as La Dorada, the Golden One, and it radiates beauty. Many of the buildings are sandstone so hold a warm glow tone. It’s a University town to rival and easily equal Cambridge, in terms of architectural style and ambiance. Its also one of the oldest and reputedly best, in Europe. The natural buzz of student life interspersed with day to day social and cafe culture were a lovely blend. There seems to be a pride in its preservation.
We were very lucky, campsites in Castilla and Leon were still on lockdown but we were able to wild camp in the field outside the gates of one and they kindly gave us access to water. It turned out to be just perfect, a 5 mile riverside ride along the local Via Verde, into Salamanca and a field with trees and mice to stalk for the furry one.
There are so many highlights, this blog could be very long, so we’ve tried to pick the best bits. The Cathedral is glorious, and my word, it’s finished! The “New” and the “Old” joined together harmoniously. The New Cathedral is built in the Gothic style while the Old Cathedral is a truly magnificent Romanesque monument. There was an “oh my word” moment, cycling around a corner to the imposing entrance. The pictures speak for themselves, we felt like storks when we left, from the upward gazing. Truly beautiful painted ceilings, ornate carvings and a flamboyant organ were some of the features. The Old part is currently closed to visitors, sadly.
One of the most unique buildings was the green glass art deco façade housing a dolls museum. This greets people either cycling the Via Verde (Green routes for cycling all over Spain) or crossing the Roman Bridge into the old town. The orange man on the front is not one of the dolls! Another, more off the beaten track is the Museo Art Nouveau y Art Deco. A stylish example of its time and immaculately kept. There are some buildings in a worse state, however there is certainly a drive to preserve the facades, even if they look like they have been propped up for quite some time. The Multi-Copy shop a sad example.
Around this area are many nods to the “Seashell”. It’s symbolic of the Santiago de Compostela pilgrim walk but also the shell is a symbol of fertility, so it appears in many guises. The façade of the main library building, Casa de las Conches, is awash with shells.
The Language School building was another full of wonder. Note in the pictures below the joined up element of the roof edge carvings, all intricate and unique, no pre formed stucco’s here. You should have seen the back of it though, as boring as BBC news.
All of the buildings of note in Salamanca are identified on the stone by hand, written in a specific style akin to ‘spider font’. An example shown at the most incredible convent, Convento de San Esteban. Check out the façade on this building, if we had stronger neck muscles, we could have stood for hours picking out the detail. The nearby cloisters were more simple but impactful.
The Plaza Mayor is unique in that it is a single four-sided building. Clearly there are rules about any changes to the facades so as to keep its feature, it has a multitude of cafes and shops underside and in the sun, a welcome drink spot after the mandatory ‘testing’ regime a few minutes earlier. We’ve seen a fair amount of government sponsored vaccination promotion but none weirder that a man wandering around the square with a giant syringe! An eye-catching gold fibreglass sculpture of a golden sumo lady, bull fighting sat in one corner of the square. She posed for selfies a lot!
Couple of other random pictures below, we liked the sign above the door of the tavern, the graffiti cat and there’s a few other buildings that looked worth photographing! Shiny litter bins may not be that interesting but to the nerds among us, they hide a massive bin below them and get emptied by a crane lifting it out of the ground and dropping the waste into a truck. So much more efficient than bin liners in a tupperwear box equivalent.
Jigsaw in the meantime, managed to hit her Paw Best (PB) on the tree climbing, ready for the next cat Olympics and surpassed herself in the sport of mousing, unfortunately hop skip and jumping past us to bring one into the van. Ah, she’s just a cat bringing us a present, said the tall one!