Study Abroad in Salamanca

Salamanca is a college town from way back. The University of Salamanca, the third oldest university in Europe, drives the economy, the culture and the bustling nightlife of this Renaissance city. Known as La Ciudad Dorado or Golden City, Salamanca's glow comes from the local sandstone used in its buildings--and from the youthful influx of students drawn to its prestigious university each year.

Study Abroad in Salamanca - Jardín del Bosque

photo by Seiho U.


The University of Salamanca was founded in 1218. It had its heyday in the 16th century, drawing students from across Europe with its reputation for forward-thinking faculty. Female professor Beatriz Galindo, tutor to Queen Isabella and her daughters, taught rhetoric here. After years of confinement by the Inquisition, it is said that Biblical scholar Fray Luis de León began his first lecture back at the University of Salamanca with the words, "As I was saying yesterday..." Miguel de Cervantes likely studied here, and Christopher Columbus may have lectured here on his famous find. Today, the university is once again a magnet for international students, especially language students, as the purest Castilian Spanish is spoken in Salamanca.

A Night on the Town

Ever danced in a convent? The disco Camelot's space is rented from the Convento de las Úrsulas, a nunnery nearby. The King Arthur decorations may be a bit silly, but the DJs are good, the international student clientele is enthusiastic and the party goes until 6am. It's definitely one of Salamanca's best nights out.

Study Abroad in Salamanca - Square in Salamanca

photo by Paco C.

Eat This

This is not the place to become a vegetarian. The region around Salamanca provides a rich, acorn-heavy diet for local pigs, producing some truly succulent swine. Enjoy these special porkers in cochinillo al fuego (roasted suckling pig), farinato (white sausage often served with eggs) and hornazo (meat pie). Vegetarians, be warned: Spaniards are always slipping pork into dishes that sound like they should be meat-free, such as the local cocido (garbanzo bean stew).

Sites to See

Salamanca's greatest draw since the 13th century is the university itself. In particular, the 16th century entrance facade is a remarkable feat of stonework rich with detailed figures, including Isabel and Fernando front and center and a famous frog on a skull. Spot the frog without help, and the word is that you'll ace your classes.

Plaza Mayor is the center point of town, a great spot to meet friends or just watch the world go by. One of Europe's loveliest squares, it glows gold in sunlight and is equally beautiful lit up at night. Plaza Mayor once held bullfights, but today you'll have to settle for the shops, cafes and bars housed in its arcades.

Study Abroad in Salamanca - Castilla Leon

photo by Francisco Antunes

The "new" cathedral (begun in 1513) and its older counterpart (from the 12th century) sit side by side, making it easy to visit both in one go. Like the university, the new cathedral sports an ornate, plateresque front. Here the game is to find the astronaut carving--a recent addition to the facade when it underwent maintenance, not proof of time travel, as some suspect.

Weekend Trip

Just an hour and a half by bus from Salamanca, Ciudad Rodrigo is a medieval town surrounded by a pretty impressive wall--another remnant of the Arab-Christian battling that rocked the region for so long. Rather cross another European country off your list? The bus ride to Porto, Portugal takes about five hours.

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