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Hitting a town in the aftermath of a festival is never a good idea. People are tired after all the celebrating, the town will be overflowing with rubbish waiting to be collected and if the weather is hot the extra rubbish sends out a smell that Chanel will be in no hurry to bottle.
All of this I was willing to ignore, when I visited Salamanca straight after its Fiesta de la Virgen de la Vega (a two week festival held in September in honour of the Virgin of the Valley, Salamanca's patron Virgin). After all the mood changes, people bounce back and the rubbish will get cleared eventually.
It was the noise that stopped me from fully enjoying this otherwise beautiful little town. Salamanca has far too much traffic for its size and hardly any streets are car-free. The car-noise gets amplified by the otherwise wonderful cobbled streets and bounces off the sandstone walls, so wherever you are, you constantly get interupted by car-noise.
Having said that, if you are less sensitive to noise than I am, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn't fall head-over-heels in love with this little town. Salamanca is an old university town with lovely sandstone architecture and an atmosphere, I've been told, typical of a northern Spanish town.
Below are some of the things you can see in Salamanca
Most guide books will tell you that this main square in Salamanca is the most beautiful main plaza in Spain. Architecturally it certainly is pretty. Plaza Mayor is also close to most attractions in Salamanca, so visitors are likely to find themselves crossing the square quite a few times during their stay.
In terms of atmosphere the plaza is too crowded for my liking. Don't get me wrong, I'm a great believer in people watching, but only when there is actually room to also chat to these people. The plaza gets particularly busy at lunch time and in the evening after 20:00, but I never actually found the plaza empty. Even at 7 in the morning pulling my suitcase across the plaza, a group of students were goofing around the plaza. I posted a brief video from Plaza Major on my travel blog (address above).
Plaza de La Libertad close to Plaza Major is more my kind of plaza. It was one of the few places where I could relax and it was quiet enough to be able to actually talk to people even if it was in very bad Spanish (mine, of course, not the Salmantinos'). It is also a great place to just sit and watch the world go by.
As impressive as the ajimez windows and the 300-odd scallop shells are, don't miss out on Casa de las Conchas (house of shells) courtyard. It's the sort of outdoor space that no house should be without, if I had my way.
If it weren't for the sun cooking my brain, I could have stood for hours admiring the minute details of the facade of the University of Salamanca. Once you've spotted the frog, and there really isn't much of it left, don't forget to visit the courtyard of Las Escuelas Menores, where you'll find the university museum. This courtyard really is a feast for the eyes.
Plaza de Anaya is a great place to sit and admire La Catedral Nueva (the New Cathedral),The Old Cathedral however it was La Catedral Vieja (the Old Cathedral) that caught my eye. But then I'm far more a people person than a building person, so what do I know. I do know that I felt far calmer looking at the Old Cathedral than the New, its also much quieter around the back.
I also really enjoyed the peace and quiet in Parque de Calixto y Melibea (I've also seen it called Huerto de Calisto y Melibea). Itâs a little haven full of plants very close to the Old Cathdral, where I sat for a while resting my ears.
If interested you can read more about my trip to Salamanca on my travel blog (link above).
You'll also find a link there to some of my photographs from Salamanca.
Feel free to leave a comment if I can help you plan your trip to Salamanca in any way.