Why visit Salamanca, Spain?
Why visit Salamanca?
Salamanca is, for many, a dream destination. Whether enjoying the floodlit delights of Plaza Mayor, the beautiful otherworldly cathedrals or the earthier student bars, Salamanca seems to strike a perfect balance between stunning monuments and good times. The contrast of which is best symbolised by the city’s awe-inspiringly refined plasteresque university, which draws a huge Spanish and international student populace, helping to ensure a young and vibrant atmosphere. The architectural splendour is not confined to the golden washed sandstone, however, as varying architectural styles compete to spell binding effect. Put simply Salamanca is one of Spain‘s most dynamic and striking cities.
Salamanca: the facts
Salamanca, with a population of nearly 200,000 is the capital of Salamanca province within the larger autonomous community of Castile and León. It is home to the oldest university in Spain and has a modern day student population of 30,000 ensuring a young and vibrant atmosphere.
First inhabited by Celtic tribes, the city really took off in significance as an important Roman hub straddling the Vía de la Plata trade road. Between 712 – 939 AD the city was incorporated into the Moorish kingdoms and suffered a sustained period of decline, which was not arrested until the reimposition of Christian rule. In 1218, a royal charter was granted to the University of Salamanca, and quickly it became a significant and prestigious centre for academic study, becoming renowned across Europe.
During the Napoleonic Wars, the Battle of Salamanca was a significant defeat for the French occupation forces, however, the city was also badly damaged with the western quarter devastated by the fighting. In the 20th century the Spanish Civil War, Salamanca quickly joined the Nationalist side and was temporarily the capital until it was moved to the more strategically located Burgos.
Today the city’s economy is based upon the twin pillars of tourism and life surrounding the city’s university with over 80% of the working population employed in the service sector.
The climate is Continental Mediterranean typified by hot summers (34 – 39°C) and cold winters (0 – 4°C) with very little rainfall.
Weather in Salamanca now
Named European Capital of Culture in 2002, Salamanca continues to play host to a myriad of cultural events and festivals throughout the year. Ranging from whole week drinking revelry to religious piety to smooth jazz. There is something for everyone and more besides.
La Feria de Salamanca is held between 8th – 21st of September with events taking place across the city. Starting out as a market for people to buy and sell goods, the tone of the festival has changed over the years and is now a curious mix of religious celebration and all night drinking. During the day there are numerous parades, in the afternoon bullfighting and in the evenings fireworks and alcohol.
Muestra Nacional de Jazz runs across February and March and showcases some of the best Jazz in the land. It is organised by Asociación de Músicos y Amigos del Jazz de Salamanca (Amajazz) (Jazz Musicians and Friends Association) and consisting of numerous concerts and lectures in a plethora of bars across the city. If that isn’t enough jazz for you, then Jazz en la Calle (Jazz in the street) takes place on the weekends in July and August and brings free open air jazz concerts to the historic areas of the city.
And for those who like their music a little more bassy, Salamanca Solotech: Música Electrónica is an electronic music festival which takes place in October at the Edificio Multiusos Sánchez Paraíso.
written by: Jon