Salamanca – Plaza Major and Museums

Plaza Mayor of Salamanca

This famous feature of Salamanca is highly regarded throughout Spain and Europe, so you will be able to find lots of information about its history, construction and everyday use. But the only way to truly learn about it is to go there yourself, so we have decided to stray from the ordinary (and let´s face it, boring!) and give you some of our personal favorite information about it:

  1. This fabulous Baroque structure is not, in fact, a perfect square! None of its sides measure the same, making it an irregular quadrilateral!
  2. It is truly a romantic spot – it has a quality that even the Eiffel tower and the side streets of Venice lack. (Honestly! I even saw a man propose to his girlfriend there once!) Now find someone to canoodle on the benches with and see for yourself!
  3. For a real taste of the café culture of Spain, this is the place to come. You can´t say you´ve been to Salamanca unless you have sat in one of the many cafés there and shared ´chocolate con churros´ or  Spanish wine/beer and tapas with friends. So get to it!
  4. It is the ultimate sun-worshipping spot. Join the crowds as they move around in time with the sun…top up your tan or just people watch and feel the real Salamanca.
  5. If all the people-watching and sun are making you hungry, but the cafés are full, never fear – hidden in the walls of the Plaza you can find every type of snack from ice cream to chorizo to MacDonald´s (we won´t tell if you don´t!) and anything else you need for that matter – kiosks, a pharmacy and a tourist information point should keep you happy for a few hours!
  6. Don´t worry about sitting or lying on the ground – the streets are cleaned every morning (as you will soon discover when leaving the clubs at 6 am and the only people around other than us students are the street cleaners!)
  7. It may not be a perfect square in shape, but for sunbathing, socializing, eating, drinking, sleeping, reading, wandering or observing Spanish people – old and young alike – there is nowhere more perfect.

The Museum of Salamanca – Fine Arts

This historical museum set in beautiful surroundings (near the University) allows you to meander quietly amongst its collection of art through the ages, from the 14th Century to the present day. Its tranquil atmosphere gives you plenty of time to contemplate and there are various exhibits – from canvas paintings, religious altarpieces and contemporary sculptures to interesting archeological pieces and a display of local ethnology.

As it’s free to students, it is the perfect lazy weekend activity. You can wander around peacefully, taking in some local heritage whilst tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the Plaza Mayor.

Museo de Salamanca – Museo de Bellas Artes
c/ Patio de Escuelas, 2
Tlf: 923 21 22 35

The Museum of Art Nouveau and Art Deco (“El Museo Art Nouveau y Art Deco”)

You can’t fail to miss this Museum’s dazzling exterior as you come into Salamanca by bus or car – the combination of its black cast iron and colorful stained glass creates a stunning setting for this more modern exhibition. The former Palace of “Casa Lis” is breathtaking as you step inside, especially on a sunny day or evening – and the glass ceiling alone (Catalonian artist Juan Villaplana deserves a mention for this) is worth the entrance fee.

The beautiful collection of dolls, chryselephantine (bronze and ivory figurines), fans, jewelry, furniture, and paintings stirs up images of the glitzy Art Deco era which seems to come alive in this fabulous building. Stopping to pause on the veranda outside, you can catch some rays whilst looking out to the river Tormes, sipping on a soda from the vending machine inside.

If this isn’t enough, the gift shop itself is a mini-museum! Here you can pick up posters for your room, a funky umbrella or even treat yourself to a replica glass brooch or lamp. Definitely a winner.

Museo Art Nouveau y Art Déco Casa Lis
C/Gibraltar,14 (37008), Salamanca
Phone: 923 12 14 25

Bullfighting Museum (‘Museo Taurino’)

Inside this classical style bull ring constructed with bricks, stone, and iron, there is apparently seating for almost 11000 spectators! There were two times in the year when you could catch a real bullfight here in Salamanca: the 12th June (the feast of San Juan de Sahagun) and from the 12th to the 21st of September, during Salamanca’s big fiesta, but as you know, the times have changed.

However, for the rest of the year, the Plaza de Toros holds a museum where you can learn about this quintessentially Spanish ‘sport'(or “cultural event“), viewing samples of the bullfighters’ elaborate, dramatic costumes and discovering the event’s important roll in Spanish history and culture as well as its international influence.

Whatever your moral views on the subject, the building and the museum are worth a look at least once during your stay – even if it is a 15-20 minute walk out of the center!

Museo Taurino de Salamanca
Doctor Piñuela, 5-7, 37002 Salamanca
Phone: 923 21 94 25

Centro Internacional de Arte (International Art Center)

Whether it concerns sculptures, engravings, or paintings, Salamanca’s Centro Internacional de Arte is famous for offering a new temporary exhibition every single month! Most of the Museum’s exhibitions feature contemporary works of art, but every now and again, you may come across some representational or abstract work as well.

The exhibits feature masterpieces by well-known artists at times and original paintings by Pablo Picasso have also been displayed at times. Check out also this article about more stunning places to visit in Spain.

Centro Internacional de Arte
Plaza España, 5-6, Edif. España, Salamanca
Phone: 923 22 88 88

University Museum

The University Museum’s collection of artwork and clerical robes is stunningly interesting and beautiful, but the most interesting and real draw is actually the building that houses the Museum. At the patio’s arches (so in the courtyard) in the “Escuelas Menores” (in fact, the Salamanca University prep school), marvel at the frescos on the ceiling that depict the zodiac.

Then, continue to the Museum’s “Sala de Exposiciones”, the exhibits room. This room is boasting another two fascinating and very beautiful ceilings. One ceiling is in the Moorish-influenced (Mudejar) style while the other ceiling is Renaissance.

Museo de la Universidad
Patio de las Escuelas Menores
Phone: 923 29 44 00

Museum of the History of the Automobile in Salamanca

This old mill contains exhibitions displaying over 100 models of cars, motorbikes and other vehicles made all over the world. A famous inclusion is General Franco’s former car! If you are interested in mechanics, vehicles of any sort, or the story of industrial development throughout both Spain and the globe, this museum is for you.

Salamanca is located south of the Camino de Santiago pilgrims route from France to Spain’s northwestern town of Santiago de Compostella but when visiting Salamanca, you may as well check out (part of) this historic route.

Museo de la Historia de Automocion
Mercado Viejo, 37008 Salamanca
Phone: 923 26 02 93