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Salamanca is situated in the region of Castilla y Leon, about 125 miles (nearly 200 km) to the northwest of Madrid. It is famous for its university and many historical monuments, such as cathedrals, ancient palaces and churches. Salamanca also has UNESCO World Heritage status, and 6 years ago it was the European Capital of Culture. Most of the attractions are found in a small locale, all within easy travel from the Rua Mayor.

After King Alfonso IX founded the university, Salamanca soon had a fine international reputation as a place of learning. Ferdinand and Isabella, provided more cash for different architectural projects, like the Cathedral, during the 16th century. Salamanca was captured by the French army in the Napoleonic Wars, then the Duke of Wellington beat them at the Battle of Salamanca. Today Salamanca has a lively feel, but the university is not the leading academic institution it used to be.

Salamanca has 2 cathedrals which are called, appropriately, Catedral Nueva (the New Cathedral) and Catedral Vieja (the Old Cathedral). Buildingof the New Cathedral began in 1513 and it was finished nearly two hundred years later, so it has an interesting mix of styles, such as Gothic and Baroque. Famed features of the New Cathedral are the wonderfully adorned dome and the carvings which tell the life of Jesus. The Old Cathedral contrasts completely with its counterpart because of the simplicity of the Romanesque style. Dating from the early12th century, it has some interesting 13th century frescoes in the Capilla de San Martin.

The heart of the city is the Plaza Mayor, some say the most beautiful square in all of Spain. Around its edge are many pavement cafes, while the magnificent town hall stands on the north side of the plaza. Nearby is one of more unusual of the Salamanca attractions and probably the most photographed, the Casa de las Conchas or House of Shells. The front of this 14th century vila is covered with shells carved in stone, which honour the pilgrimage location of Santiago de Compostela. Near to the Casa de las Conchas is the beautiful 17th century church of La Clerecia, famous for its 2 spires.

Famous people that have been to Salamanca University include Miguel de Cervantes and the Hernan Cortes. A statue of Fray Luis de Leon, who was jailed during the Spanish Inquisition is located in the Patio de Escuelas. The ancientchurch of San Esteban, found next to the university, is famous for its intricately carved facade, best viewed in the evening.

The Art Nouveau and Art Deco Museum has displays of over 1,500 items, from oli paintings, old furniture, jewelry to porcelain dolls. There are also pieces by the famous glassmaker, Lalique.

The tourist office is located in the Plaza Mayor and is open every day. Salamanca does not have its own airport, but there is a good bus and train service to Madrid.
For more advice and tourist information about Salamanca please see Salamanca Spain.

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