Salamanca is a city visitors fall in love with, not only because of the incredible beauty of its extremely well-known monuments, but also because of its excellent atmosphere and wealth of gastronomic delights. Salamanca´s citizens often enjoy some tapas before lunch. There are a lot of well-established places to visit, such as Cervantes, in the Plaza Mayor (main square), famous for their varied tortilla (omelette) snacks and palomas, ensaladilla-filled pork scratchings. Another place where you can try a good local wine, along with an oreja (ear) tapa, or blood sausage, or chanfaina, the local stew, is Cervecería del Comercio in Pozo Amarillo, a street famous for its restaurants including Dulcinea (Don Quijote´s love) and El Jamón. In both these places, you can try two Salamanca specialties superb roast suckling pig or kid.
Lunchtime offers a myriad of choices. In Corrillo Square, between the famous Plaza Mayor and the cathedral, you will find the Río Tormes restaurant, once called La Viuda del Fraile (The Monk´s Widow). Here you can try delicious onion soup, a dish from the Castilla-Leon region. Another very well-known place is the Mesón La Espada, a small restaurant very close to the Plaza Mayor where the quality is outstanding. You just have to try their famous marujas salad, a dish of their own invention which has become famous in Salamanca and is only available in the spring.
Continuing a gastronomic route in the city center, it is essential to make a stop at La Bellota Charra, a restaurant where you can try a seemingly endless variety of dishes derived from the Iberian pig, as well as exquisite local wines like those of Sierras de Arribes. One must not forget that some of the wines of Castile and León enjoy an outstanding reputation. Ribera del Duero is one of these, and you will find it in almost all restaurants including the cozy Valencia. This restaurant is located just 1min away from the Plaza Mayor; you have to try their onion-flavored blood pudding, or tongue with pine nuts.
After lunch there is nothing better than a coffee. A good place to have it is on the sunny open-air terrace of La Platea in Plaza del Corrillo. Other places where having coffee is a real pleasure are Capitán Haddock and La Posada de las Almas. Both places are well worth a visit, if only for their rustic decor and intimate atmosphere. Another great place is the Irish Rover, located just a minute away from the famous façade of the Universidad (university) and decorated in the style of an ancient theater.
At nightfall, the natives of Salamanca set off again for tapas. There is no better place for this than the district of Van Dyck. The Taberna del Peregrino has great tapas, and those made with barbecued steak, bacon or pork in most places in this district make any outing a pleasure. You will find various restaurants in Van Dyck, including Barbacoa La Encina, Mesón-Asador Las Estrébedes, and El Bodegón. Their specialties include Iberian sausages, roast suckling pig and grilled veal.
Finally, there is no better place for a few drinks than the Gran Vía district. There´s a heap of places where you can throw a party, and they generally have offers to make it more economical. In the Savor you can enjoy the best of Latin music, and in El Callejón you can listen to Spanish music until the wee hours of the morning. In other districts there are also well known places like Camelot and Morgana, two discos with good music and where the night is always young.
Salamanca is a city of many faces: cultural, monumental, dedicated to the service industry, university-oriented (with two universities and almost 40,000 students) and home to cattle breeders and matadors alike. With the beauty of its characteristic Villamayor sandstone buildings and plenty of nightlife, the city offers something for everyone at any time of day or night.
As a center of culture, the city is home to many forms of artistic expression exhibited at galleries and museums. The most important of these, such as San Eloy, which holds the best national and international collections, and La Salina, are all well-known for their dedication to promoting art in the city. Other important venues include the Patio de Escuelas and the Varrón, Galería Reyes Católicos and Ateneo galleries. But without doubt, Salamanca´s greatest works of art can be found along the streets in the Old Quarter, lined with monumental buildings made from golden Villamayor sandstone. You could spend hours just contemplating Plaza Mayor or the domes of either the New Cathedral or the Old Cathedral. Then there is Casa de las Conchas, housing the municipal library, the Clerecía (or Espíritu Santo Church), the famous Universidad de Salamanca façade with its much-sought-after frog, and the Universidad Pontificia.
Other must-visits include the collection of dolls and curious objects found in the Museo Art Nouveau y Art Decó -housed in the beautiful Casa Lis-, the Masonic Lodge, the collection of clocks found in Colegio Fonseca, personal items and archives belonging to renowned writer and philosopher Miguel de Unamuno in his House and Museum, and, last but not least, the old manuscripts found in the Museo de San Esteban.
The Salamanca Museum (Museo Provincial de Bellas Artes), the Santa Clara Museum and the Museo de Historia de la Ciudad (dedicated to the city´s history) house collections narrating Salamanca´s most important events. The Museo Taurino also features an interesting collection on bullfighting, a very important and deeply-rooted tradition in Salamanca.
Salamanca has an increasing number of cinemas for film buffs. Cines Van Dyck is the most well-known, with six screens, and there are an additional four in the Van Dyck Joven cinema, which organizes marathon film fests. Multicines Salamanca features blockbuster films on its six screens, while Cines Bretón offers independent and original language movies on four screens. There is also the Filmoteca and the Teatro Auditorio de Caja Duero, which organize film series on specific directors, actors, documentaries and shorts. Music
Salamanca does not have a plethora of music venues, but there are a couple of important ones: the Palacio de Congresos, for classic opera and zarzuela (Spanish opera) or pop and rock concerts, and the Auditorio de Caja Duero. But the large number of stages found in numerous bars throughout town, such as El Corrillo (for jazz and soul), The Irish Rover (for up and coming Irish and Spanish groups), and Camelot (dedicated to Spanish rhythms) compensates for the lack of major venues.
Salamanca is rapidly growing in terms of theater space available, especially for new companies. These venues include Pizarrales and Miraltormes, two cultural centers. For large-scale productions with an international focus, one option is the stage found in the courtyard of Colegio del Arzobispo Fonseca (Los Irlandeses).
This is one of the most central neighborhoods in the city with a lot of options for going out, such as bars like Pub Tino's, Camelot (with a fun Medieval ambience), Gatsby, or Trastevere (famous for good music).
In just a few years, this area has become a popular nightspot. It contains fun spots like Birdland, El Callejón (with great theme parties) and Café Musical (where the city's "beautiful people" tend to gather). You´ll also find lots of bars renowned for their tapas and pinchos, such as Bambú.
This area is famous for its monuments, but there are other possibilities especially suited to taking a break from sightseeing as well. You can have a coffee at El Principal or a piece of cake at Alcaraván. After nightfall, however, Salamanca becomes a little more Irish at The Irish Rover, with its flock of university students and multicultural atmosphere. San Justo
For more "alternative" options, check out the area surrounding small Plaza de San Justo, where various "urban tribes" hang out; whether punk, grunge, hippie or indie, they're all here. Popular spots include Sargento Pipper´s, with a carefree atmosphere, and artsy Sol.
This is the best spot to begin your night out grazing on tapas, beer and wine. There are lots of options on any of the small streets around the square, such as Pino or Belle Epóque, both of which are located on Paseo de Carmelitas. This street is surrounded by what´s known as Plaza de los Litros (Litre Square), where many bars compete to attract folks for that all-important first drink.
From Puente Romano (Roman Bridge) to the Filmoteca (Film Library)
If you like walking, visiting monuments and going to museums, then this is the tour for you. Starting at Puente Romano, where you can see the famous bull from the first picaresque novel Lazarillo de Tormes, walk along Paseo del Rector Esperabe where El Rastro (a flea market) is held every Sunday; the Romanesque-Mudejar style Iglesia de Santiago (St James Church) is also located here. Continue along and you will see the ruins of another church, the Iglesia de San Polo, where a hotel now stands. Right beside this is El Carmen de Abajo. Carry on along Arroyo de Santo Domingo, under a small bridge that links the Las Dueñas Convent with the magnificent San Esteban Convent. You can visit Colegio de Calatrava in Calle del Rosario, and 10 metres from here the small Santo Tomás Cantuariense Church.
Reaching Paseo de Canalejas, cross over the road and visit Las Bernardas Church located inside Colegio San José de Calasanz. Further along Paseo de Canalejas, take the third street on the left which will take you to one of the lesser known museums, which boasts the best views of the city—Santa Clara Convent. From here, and taking in Plaza de Bretón and Calle Banzo, you will reach Plaza de San Cristóbal where there is a church of the same name from the 12th century.
The last part of the tour takes you along Calle Bodegones to Sancti Spiritus Church. From Ronda de Sancti Spiritus go down to the first street on the left. You will come out into Plaza de la Constitución (Constitution Square). Cross Gran Vía and you will find yourself in front of the Torre del Aire (Tower of Air), also known as Palacio de Fermoselle (Fermoselle Palace), with its one window. If you carry on along Calle Bermejeros and reach Plaza de los Sexmeros, you will see two things: Casa de la Tierra and the 12th century San Julián Church. To finish up, dont miss the Casa de las Viejas (House of the Old Ladies) in the Calle Gonzala Santana where the Filmoteca de Castilla y León (Film Library) is housed, along with the "Artilugios para fascinar" (Gadgets to Fascinate the Beholder), Basilio Martín Patino's collection. No doubt this tour will fascinate you. From the Plaza Mayor to the Museum of History
A short tour has the advantage of taking less time and also means you have to walk less. This tour packs many points of interest into a short time, and you are sure to like it. To start off, depart from the place most characteristic of Salamanca's architecture, and one that is known the world over: the Plaza Mayor (Main Square). Once you have taken it all in, go out through the arch of Plaza del Corrillo and take a look inside Salamancas oldest church, the Romanesque San Martín Church. Leave the church through the door that comes out into Rúa Mayor. Take a leisurely walk along this street: on the right you will see the Casa de las Conchas (House of Shells), the Clerecía Church and the Universidad Pontificia (Pontifical University) in Calle Compañía. You will be able to do some souvenir shopping in one of the many shops along this road.
Don't buy too much yet, however, because there are still a few buildings to see. At the end of Rúa Mayor you reach Plaza de Anaya where you should visit San Sebastián Church on the left. Even many Salamanca citizens are not familiar with this church. Right beside it is Colegio de Anaya and the Hospedería (old residence).Catedral Nueva (new cathedral) - with the door designed by Ramos depicting the Adoration, and its 17 chapels - and the Catedral Vieja (old cathedral) with the Torre del Gallo, the chapel of San Martín and the main chapel.
So as not to tire you too much, especially if you visit both cathedrals, all you have to do now is cross over Plaza de Juan XXIII to visit one of the many museums in Salamanca, the Museo de Historia de la Ciudad (Museum of the History of the City), housing the works acquired by the city since 1979.
From Torre del Clavero to Patio de Escuelas
This is a tour full of contrasts, taking in military-style architecture, legendary places and even a student quarter. Start off in Calle del Consuelo. You'll find it right opposite a typically military-style, 15th-century building. Going up Calle Miñagustín you reach Calle San Pablo. Walk down the left-hand side, and opposite you will see Calle Felipe Espino with Palacio de la Salina, where the County Council is located. Return to Calle San Pablo and walk to the right. You will see Sala de Exposiciones de la Salina (Salina Exhibition Hall) and Palacio de Orellana. A little further down is Palacio de Abrantes. Opposite this you can visit the 17th-century Church of San Pablo.
In a very concentrated space you have already seen many places, but there is plenty more to behold. If you carry on down, the fourth road on the right (Cuesta de Carvajal) takes you to a world full of legends. Cueva de Salamanca is a magical place, where it is said that the Marquis de Villena mocked the devil. Beside this is the ground floor of the old San Cebrián Church, the Marquis Tower and the Carvajal Seminary. Taking Calle Arcediano you will reach the gardens of Huerto de Calixto y Melibea and the Jardines del Visir.
There are still a lot of places to visit. If you take Patio Chico and Calle Gibraltar, you arrive at the Museo de Art Nouveau y Art Deco. This is the most important of its kind in Spain, and it is located in Casa Lis. Right beside it is the Archivo Histórico Nacional (National Archive of History), where you will see a reproduction of a Logia de Masones (Masonic Lodge). After this, cross over Calle Tentenecio and take Calle Veracruz to see an inn which is the only building representing local Salamanca architecture. On the right hand side you enter what was once the haunt of students of ages past, Calle Libreros, which houses Casa Museo de Unamuno (Unamuno House and Museum) and Patio de Escuelas with the plateresque façade of the University, that of the famous frog (they say that if you can find it, hidden as it is amongst all the figures in the façade, it brings you good luck), Casa de los Abarca and Patio de Escuelas Menores where the tour draws to a close. The Almost Circular Tour, from the Palacio de Congresos to the Clerecía
The old and the new blend together on this tour, which starts in nearly the same place as it ends. Start at Cuesta de Oviedo where you see a very large, modern building erected in 1992. This is the Palacio de Congresos y Exposiciones (Conference and Exhibitions Hall), where fairs and arts and crafts festivals are held. On the left, along Cuesta de Oviedo, you will see a statue dedicated by the city to the famous flamenco singer, Rafael Farina. Continue to the right along La Vaguada de la Palma. Go up a small rise, San Blas, towards the left, and you will arrive at Auditorio de San Blas (San Blas Auditorium) and Colegio Fonseca with its permanent collection of clocks. Leaving here and turning left you reach Campo de San Francisco, with a chapel dedicated to this saint.
Right opposite the chapel is Calle Domínguez Berrueta. Cross over and go along it till you reach the first street on the right. Ready yourself; you are about to enter one of the most beautiful streets of the city, las Úrsulas. On your tour, you must include Veracruz Chapel, Las Úrsulas Convent, Adoratrices Convent and Santa María de los Caballeros Convent, with the statue of Unamuno opposite, worked in bronze by Pablo Serrano to pay homage to the famous Salamanca philosopher and writer of the Generation of 98.
By now you are in Calle Bordadores. If you look behind you, you will see two houses, that of Ovalle, where Miguel de Unamuno died in 1936, and Casa de las Muertes (House of the Dead), a house adorned with skulls and surrounded by macabre legends. Going to your left you will reach Plaza de Monterrey with the enormous Palacio de Monterrey belonging to the Duchess of Alba. Turning to the right you enter the old world Calle Compañía, and arrive at Plaza de San Benito where the church of the same name is located, as well as Casa de Solís and Casa de Maldonado. To complete your tour, a little further on are the Universidad Pontificia (Pontifical University), the Clerecía Church and the famous Casa de las Conchas (House of Shells). Not far from here you return once again to the Palacio de Congresos y Exposiciones.
The Tour of Bulls, from the Bullfighting Museum to La Glorieta
In a city like this, you can't help but go to a couple of places with true bullfighting atmosphere. You could begin this little walk at Museo Taurino (the bullfighting museum) in Calle Doctor Piñuela, very near the Plaza Mayor (main square). Leaving here and going down to the left along Calle Toro, take the first road on your left to reach Calle Concejo, but not before taking a look at the Palacio de Montellano. In Calle Concejo, towards the left, is a little square called La Libertad where you can see the façade of the Casa de los Rodríguez Manzano. Continuing down along the Cuesta del Carmen you will come across the Sala de Exposiciones Unamuno (Unamuno Exhibitions Hall) where young artists display their works.
At the end of Cuesta del Carmen, turn right into the Plaza de San Juan Bautista, where San Juan Bautista de Barbalos Church is situated. Carry on straight ahead, and in the first street on the left, Condes de Crespo Rascón, is Casa de Santa Teresa de Jesús. Opposite is Palacio de Garci Grande, one of whose sides leads into Plaza de los Bandos where you can see Casa de Doña María la Brava and Colegio de San Elías.
Now nearing the end of our tour, go up Calle Zamora, full of art galleries, taking in the Carmelite church and the circular church of San Marcos, a treasure of 1178. From here you need to cross Plaza del Ejército, go to Paseo de Torres Villarroel, and walk a little way in order to see Las Salesas before reaching Plaza de Toros de la Glorieta, the bullring that for over 100 years has played host to some of the greatest and most renowned figures of the bullfighting world.