Wednesday 10 July 2019
Salamanca has been a player in Spain’s most significant historical events. The Vettones were a pre-Roman people who lived in the region, possibly of Celtic origin. They made animal statues, called verraco,
like this bull found beside the river Tormes in Salamanca.
There were a couple of verraco in Ávila but I didn’t know what they were at the time. There’s a pig (?) in the background of the fountain.
The Roman bridge across the Tormes is over two thousand years old.
Until 1901 it was the only bridge, and up to the 1970’s it still carried vehicles.
It is now just for pedestrians. Another example of Roman builds staying built.
Salamanca was in the Roman province of Lusitania and was besieged by Hannibal. Conquered by the Arabs, lost and regained several times by the Christians, it was definitively reconquered by the great pro-European king Alfonso VI.
In 1200 he founded the University of Salamanca.
The new University soon brought fame to the city, and in 1254, Pope Alexander IV called it “one of the four leading lights of the world”, the others being Paris, Bologna and Oxford.
There are the faint remains of red paint on the walls, as students would write their names when they graduated.
The centre is the Plaza Mayor,
considered one of the best in the world.
Its cool archways echo with what is going on in the city.
Salamanca is considered a Renaissance city of Spain.
The construction of its famous cathedral was started in the XIIth Century
and ended in the XVth Century.
The Romanic and Plateresque styles – literally like a silversmith – are seen across the city. I was drawn into a few small courtyards,
where this delicate style was evident.
This Ducal palace is decorated with shells.
Salamanca was badly affected by the Peninsular War from 1808 to 1811. At last, at the very gates of the city, Wellington defeated Napoleon’s army at the Battle of Arapiles, which led to the withdrawl of the Napoleon from Spain. This withdrawl left behind the destruction of many marvellous architectural treasures, but hasn’t left Salamanca short.
A beautiful and atmospheric city.
As I returned to the van, I took in the Domus Artium 2002 (DA2)
Created, surprisingly enough, in 2002, coinciding with Salamanca’s designation as European Cultural Capital, the building, which was formerly a prison,
was refurbished and expanded. DA2 primarily focuses on contemporary art and new technologies. There was much to enjoy,
such as this macabre inquisition inspired exhibition by Marta Serna.