Less than three hours from Madrid, you will find Salamanca, the first Spanish city to establish a university. It is home to the Old Cathedral, the Plaza Mayor, and the Monterrey Palace, which earned the city its UNESCO World Heritage status in 1988.
The New Cathedral combines Gothic and Baroque elements, and the Escuelas Mayores are the most representative buildings of the University of Salamanca since 1533. Legend has it that students who could spot a sculpted frog on the facade, sitting atop a skull, would pass their exams with flying colors. The Casa de las Conchas and the Casa de Lis are both significant buildings in Salamanca.
The Casa de las Conchas features a Gothic facade adorned with 350 seashells, while the Casa de Lis is a modernist mansion. The Monterrey Palace, built in 1539, showcases Plateresque style, and the Convent of San Esteban is a Renaissance building with an altarpiece by José de Churriguera. Plaza Mayor is the heart of Salamanca, surrounded by buildings made of golden stone.
The most important festivals in Salamanca include Holy Week, Lunes de Aguas, the Feast of the Virgen de la Vega, and the Castilla y León Arts Festival. Lunes de Aguas dates to the 16th century when prostitutes were sent to cross the Tormes River and returned to the city amidst cheers and dances.
Local gastronomy offers roast meats, cured sausages, goat and sheep cheeses, and charcuterie. Typical dishes include chanfaina (spiced lamb or pork stew), farinato (a type of sausage), hornazo (a stuffed bread), patatas revolconas (mashed potatoes with paprika and pork), Arribes de Salamanca sheep cheese, and Armua lentils.
Momo, Mesón Cervantes, and Café Real are good options to taste the local cuisine in Salamanca. Those interested in purchasing typical regional products can visit specialized stores such as Ibéricos El Castizo or La Tahona Delicatessen.
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