Walking Tour of Salamanca: Touring on Foot on Spain’s City of Gold
During my second day in the beautiful Salamanca, Mercedez, me and my travel buddies toured around Salamanca City with a little twist from what one would say conventional touring — we toured on foot!
Salamanca province is located in Western Spain, west of Portugal on the map. Its capital city, Salamanca City, is just about 200 kilometers from Madrid, Spain’s central capital. Salamanca City is close to several popular tourist hotspots in Spain, such as Segovia and Toledo. To reach Salamanca province from your home country, the most convenient way is to book a flight to Madrid Airport and then proceed to Salamanca by Bus.
Salamanca City is a peaceful place, and most of the people we saw while we toured all traveled on foot as well. During the first part of the walking tour, I noticed that the roads were mostly narrow and a wide-sized vehicle wouldn’t even fit in it.
There were also very few cars visible in the residential areas we passed by, so I guess walking has been hardwired into the culture of the people in there. It’s like the city was built exactly for the locals’ lifestyle.
As we officially started our walking tour on Salamanca City, Spain’s “Golden City”, our tour guide assured us that all the tourist destinations in our itinerary for the day were all within walking distance and that it’s possible to walk from one end of the city to the other within an hour. Some of my travel buddies sighed with relief, but I wouldn’t have minded walking longer hours, though. It’s so peaceful, and the weather was so pleasant.
The first place we went to was the Plaza Mayor. It was a huge square surrounded by a brown building that is located in the very heart of the city. Our tour guide said that it is considered the most important public space in Salamanca City. Its façade would make one think that it’s old and obsolete, but Plaza Mayor is actually connected and lined with many restaurants, shops, and various stores.
I personally thought that Plaza Mayor’s appearance is beautiful as it is with its baroque architecture, but our tour guide said that it’s even more beautiful at night, as the whole surface of the plaza is lit. Oh, how I looked forward to that!
Plaza Mayor dates back to 1755 and was primarily used as a place for bullfighting. Now, although its purpose has changed, I found it quite amazing that it has served as a public gathering area for over 3 centuries!
We left Plaza Mayor and proceeded with our walking tour. It was then that I finally realized how close the tourist destinations were. The fun was just starting.
Our next stop was La Casa de Santa Teresa en Salamanca. Sta. Teresa, the person to whom the place is dedicated to, first arrived there on October 31, 1570. La Casa de Santa Teresa en Salamanca is a historically significant building, as it was the venue of the Noche de Las Animas or the Night of the Spirits. The building is currently owned by the Ovalle family.
After La Casa, we headed right away to Palacio de Monterrey, which was surprisingly just a few blocks away. Our tour guide mentioned that the Palacio was built sometime in the 16th century by a man named R.Gil de Hontanon.
It was originally meant for the Fonseca Family, but the building was never finished. Only one of the four wings of the palace was completed, and it was clear that time has swept away all its former beauty. Regardless, it remains a significant building in Salamanca.
We say goodbye to the barely-finished palace and went to Parroquia De La Purísima Concepción, which is, again, surprisingly just next to the Palacio. La Purisima, a church whose construction was sponsored by the Count of Monterrey (oh, that explains why it’s so close to the Palacio!), was constructed for 50 years, from 1635 to 1685. The Parroquia De La Purísima Concepción was very old-looking (and sort of creepy as well), but I was impressed by how the people maintained the church for such a long period of time that it continues to stand even today.
After one church, we headed to another—the Church of San Benito. Our tour guide mentioned that the tombs of Arias Perez Maldonado and his wife Elvira Hernandez Cabeza de Vaca are housed by the church. Hearing that sent chills down my spine, not because of the fact that there are tombs in the church, but because I realized how the people of Salamanca, or perhaps of Spain in general, are so attached and dedicated to their churches. Spain is, however, one of the centers of Christianity since time immemorial, so I guess that goes without saying.
We went to Universidad Pontifica afterwards. One of the things I noticed during my stay in Salamanca was that there were a lot of schools or universities. Can you imagine how all these schools, and how all these centuries-old buildings, are all cramped up in the city of Salamanca? The city’s so rich in culture, and history, and education, that there’s no doubting why it’s called the Golden City of Spain.
Universidad Pontifica is the fourth oldest university in the whole of Europe, and its architecture gives off the aura of the ancient times. I couldn’t begin to imagine all the brilliant minds that studied here since its construction.
We moved on to Casa de Las Conchas, or “The House of Shells”. Like how the name itself states, the building’s exterior is designed with shells. Inside we saw a mixture of Gothic, Moorish, and Italian styles of architecture. Once again, we were able to realize Spain’s rich culture.
From there we proceeded to Patio de Escuelas Menores, which houses the Museo de Salamanca, a museum containing still portraits that perfectly captures the Salamanca way of life. We weren’t allowed to take pictures of the beautiful paintings, sculptures, and altarpieces.
We also went to the University of Salamanca. It is the oldest university in the whole of Spain and is one of Salamanca City’s most treasured jewels. The façade of the university says it all. It was evident that the Spanish architects back then were very meticulous, as simple buildings such as schools were given so much detail and design. Still, it was probably a reflection of how the Spanish people valued education and learning.
The interior of the university was no different from its exterior. Inside was the Hall of Fray Luis de Leon, which looked like a scene from a very old movie, and the University Library (which we were told had more than 250,000 books!).
We also learned that the University of Salamanca Library is also the oldest library in Spain, which dates back to 1254.
After walking around the tourist-hotspot-cramped city of Salamanca, we returned to our hotel to rest. It was truly an amazing tour. We simply walked around and marveled at the beauty of the city, but it was more than enough.
The peaceful city of Salamanca was almost like the night sky carefully laid with all those precious buildings of stars, and although life there seems so simple and laid back, I wouldn’t mind returning to it someday.
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Walking Day Tour To Avila and Salamanca from Madrid
- This walking tour of Salamanca and Avila is recommended for all travelers who love to visit heritage and religious sites.
- Explore the signature attractions of two beautiful cities, Avila and Salamanca.
- Visit popular attractions such as Cathedral of Avila, San Vicente Shrine, Plaza Mayor of Salamanca.
- Enjoy comfortable and hassle-free transportation between the meetup point in Avila and Salamanca, Spain.
Originally Published on June 23, 2015, this Walking Tour of Salamanca blog post was last updated in August 2018.
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- A Culinary and Cultural Tour of Castilla y Leon
- Castilla y Leon: The Tuscany of Spain
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