The day could start with a stroll through the old town to explore the main tourist sights such as the Plaza Mayor and the city’s two Cathedrals.
Historic quarter. The centre of city life
The best place to begin our itinerary is in the famous Plaza Mayor, one of the most beautiful squares in the whole of Europe. We can pick up all the information we need in the tourist office here. We're now standing at the busiest spot in the whole city, and if we look around us, we're bound to see a number of people enjoying a drink or a snack at the outdoor cafés and restaurants. It's well worth taking a walk round the 88 porticoed arches in the square; if you look carefully, you can see carved medallions with the faces of famous people like the writer Miguel de Cervantes, the author of Don Quixote.After taking a few photos, this is the time to stop for a cup of coffee at any of the cafés in the square, for example the hundred-year-old Café Novelty, with the sculpture of the writer Torrente Ballester in its interior. We continue our visit through the Plaza del Corrillo square (there are a series of small stalls here where you can buy gifts and souvenirs), and then go down the Rúa Mayor until we reach the Casa de las Conchas (House of Shells). You'll be captivated by this unusual building decorated with thousands of shells which were used as a token of the marriage between the scions of two noble families. According to legend there's a treasure hidden beneath one of the shells, so it's worth looking very closely.
Behind the Casa de las Conchas, in the Calle de la Compañía, we can see the towers of the Clerecía church and the Pontificia University. We're now walking along one of the most historic thoroughfares in the city, and it feels as though we've travelled back in time to past centuries, to a period of splendid palaces. If we continue down we’ll see Monterrey Palace, the Convent of Las Ursulas and the College of Archbishop Fonseca.Retracing our steps we come to the beautiful Plaza de Anaya square and its gardens, one of the most charming places in Salamanca. This is a good place to take a seat and admire all the beautiful buildings around us: in front of us, we see the city's imposing New Cathedral, and behind us, Anaya College. There's a really special atmosphere in this area, which is bustling with tourists, students, passers-by…
the city of the two cathedrals
This is the moment to see the New Cathedral from close-up. As we approach the building, we're sure to find a group of people trying to pick out the different details in this Gothic construction. The best idea is to join in the search, as the lower part of the Cathedral door conceals carved figures such as an astronaut, a monkey eating an ice cream and a stork. Incredible but true! Not many cities have two cathedrals: Salamanca does.They're interconnected, and the Old Cathedral is accessed from inside the New Cathedral. Although the Old Cathedral is not as imposing, the medieval atmosphere and tranquillity of this Romanesque temple captivates everyone who steps inside. These walls have witnessed banquets, examinations (students who passed their exams were awarded their degree in the cloister of the Cathedral itself), religious councils, Inquisition courts…
Although we've seen some fairly impressive sights, the best is yet to come: from the ground floor of the Old Cathedral, you can visit the permanent exhibition called 'Ieronimus', with an unusual tour that includes access to the highest part of both cathedrals. We can get a close-up view of –and almost touch– the towers, which are 110 metres high, including the most typical towers such as the Gallo (cockerel) (so-called due to its cockerel-shaped weathervane) and the Campanas. We then move onto a terrace, which offers outstanding views over the city. Simply fantastic.
Let’s go out for tapas
After this highly cultural morning, lunch is the perfect time to savour the famous culinary attractions of Salamanca. And the best way to do this is by going out for tapas: hopping from bar to bar trying small portions of the local specialities. The area around the Plaza Mayor is the ideal place to sample a wide range of hearty sausages and cured meats, for example. If you'd rather eat in a restaurant, you can always order the delicious roast suckling pig. Another busy area which is much frequented and offers a wide range of options (now in the new part of the city) is the Calle Van Dyck.