I’m writing this while sitting on a train to Madrid after spending three nights in Salamanca in north-west Spain. Salamanca was recommended to me by a friend (thanks Anna!) and I was definitely not disappointed.
As with many European cities, the cathedral towers over the centre of town, but Salamanca is also dominated by its university which is almost 800 years old. It is built in a beautiful sandstone with ancient faded writing – called vitores – on many of the external walls. These were originally painted using bull’s blood and symbolise the victory of the Doctorate students over the books.
Plaza Mayor, the old city square is visually stunning. Completed in 1755, it was built in the traditional Spanish baroque style and used for bull fights until the mid 1800s. It hums with activity day and night. While we were in town, stalls were set up for an antique book fair. Around the edge of the square are shops and restaurants that fill with tourists and locals. Each night they eat tapas and drink beer, sangria or wine … but not before the traditional evening stroll. Like other Spanish cities we’ve visited, just before dark each evening the streets and plazas fill with families, groups of young people, or couples – young and old, arm-in-arm – walking, stopping to chat with friends and enjoying the sight of the city’s beautiful monuments as they light up. It is a lovely tradition and one I’ll miss being a part of when I return home.