Home » 2019 Spain

Salamanca, Spain

Sunday, June 2, 2019 - 7:30pm by Lolo
310 miles and 6 hours from our last stop - 2 night stay


Lolo walking across the Roman Bridge towards the Salamanca CathedralLolo walking across the Roman Bridge towards the Salamanca CathedralWe arrived at Camping Don Quijote, on the outskirts of Salamanca, quite late in the afternoon -- not bad, considering we had toured the Mezquita in Cordoba just that morning.

The campground was top-notch - good-sized plots, a large pool, 5-star restaurant on site, and adjacent to a lovely park along the Tormes River. The walking/bike path along this river and our walking legs would be our means of getting to the Salamanca Old City in the morning.

I was quite excited about visiting Salamanca as it is one of Spain’s most picturesque cities and home to Spain’s oldest and most prestigious university. Also, the Lonely Planet’s 1000 Ultimate Experiences book lists Salamanca’s Plaza Mayor as the most beautiful plaza in Spain. That’s a lot of superlatives for one medium-sized city. Oh, and it was also declared a UNESCO World Heritage City in 1988.

Don Quixote and his sidekick Sancho PanzaDon Quixote and his sidekick Sancho PanzaThe river path from the campground into town was quite lovely, although we did lose our way a few times when it veered inward. However, after about 5 ½ miles and close to 2 hours, we arrived at a 1st century AD Roman Bridge, which is open only to promenading pedestrians.

We walked out on the bridge where there was an excellent view of the Salamanca Cathedral, with its double domes - one over the 12th century Romanesque half and one over the newer 16th-18th century Gothic / Baroque cathedral. These two churches are actually joined together - but more on that later.

Continuing our walking tour, we passed by the Salamanca Cathedral (for now) and strolled up the Calle Rua Mayor, Salamanca’s main drag, and into the absolutely beautiful Plaza Mayor, Spain’s finest plaza, and in my humble opinion a rival to Venice’s St. Mark’s Square. It gave me goosebumps.

Plaza Mayor, Spain’s finest plazaPlaza Mayor, Spain’s finest plazaRather than have lunch at one of the fancier restaurants that lined the perimeter of the plaza, we decided to select a bit more casual establishment, called the Vinoteca Taperia, back in the hopping Calle Rua Mayor. We were on the early side, so when we sat down at one of the tables on the patio along the street, we were ignored for awhile by the waiters who were having their own lunch before things got busy.

Finally, they got around to us and we had a wonderful lunch of tapas: spinach roll with ham sauce, crunchy chicken with mustard and honey sauce, salmon tartare and guacamole (my favorite), plus sangria and a Heineken (seriously?) for Herb. It was delicious.

After that, we continued our walk, stopping to admire the Casa de las Conchas, a house whose facade is encrusted with more than 300 scallop shells, before entering the Salamanca Cathedral - or more correctly, Cathedrals, an old one and a new one, joined together and both part of the tour.

Jamon, as far as the eye can seeJamon, as far as the eye can seeWe started in the New Cathedral, which by U.S. standards would not be considered so new, as it was begun in the early 16th century and completed at the end of the 18th century. During those centuries, architectural design changed a bit, so the church has both Gothic and Baroque architectural elements and decoration. Its impressive dimensions (104 meters in length, 48 meters in width, and a 38 meter high dome) give the interior an overwhelming sense of spaciousness.

The Old Cathedral, which we entered next, had a very different feel to it - more cozy and intimate. It was built in the 12th century in the Romanesque style. Its main altar features one of Europe’s oldest organs and more than 50 paintings of biblical scenes dating back to the 15th century. There is a 110-meter clock tower, called La Torre Del Gallo, which you can climb up for beautiful views of the Old Town. Either it was closed or we missed it. Too bad.

After the Cathedral, we made the long walk back along the river to our campground - for a total distance of 15 miles that day. Fortunately, the sights along the way were a good distraction, so we hardly noticed.

Approaching the Salamanca CathedralApproaching the Salamanca CathedralAs soon as we got back to the campground, even before jumping in the pool, we made reservations at the very popular and highly rated campground restaurant - so different than in the U.S. where campgrounds rarely have restaurants and even if they did, I highly doubt reservations would be needed.

With all the calories we burned today, we deserved a hearty dinner, so ordered a giant plate of meats and roasted vegetables to share. Very yummy. It was called the Carne for Two. That an a bottle of wine cost us 36 €.

I was really starting to fall in love with Spain!


Plaza Mayor, Spain’s finest plazaPlaza Mayor, Spain’s finest plazaSalamanca is an ancient university town located in the Castilla and Leon region, about 130 miles northwest of Madrid. It is one of Spain’s most picturesque cities, and it Old City was declared a UNESCO World Heritage City in 1988. Its university is the oldest in Spain and one of the most prestigious academic centres in Europe

The Carthaginians first conquered the city in the 3rd century BC. It then became a Roman settlement before being conquered and ruled by the Moors until the 11th century. As a result, the Old City has an interesting mix of Roman, Moorish, Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance monument.

Its major sites include:

  • Plaza Mayor - Spain’s most beautiful plaza (according to Lonely Planet’s 1000 Ultimate Experiences)
  • Calle Rua Mayor - Salamanca’s Main Drag with restaurants, tapas bars, and shops
  • Casa de las Conchas - facade encrusted with more than 300 scallop shells
  • Salamanca Cathedral- 12th-century Romanesque church adjoining the much larger and newer Gothic / Baroque “New Cathedral” begun in the 16th century and completed in the 18th century
  • Roman Bridge (1st century AD) - open only to promenading pedestrians

Salamanca location map in "high definition"

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