Salamanca with Hillary & Becca

Salamanca with Hillary & Becca

Salamanca, Spain – July 9, 2011

Today we decided to visit Salamanca. It was a very enjoyable trip. It is about 200 kilometers (125 miles) west of our home.  It took us about two hours to get there. We arrived around 09:15 and parked very near the first-century Roman Bridge (Puente Romano), on the street called San Gregorio.  From there we walked toward the Cathedral along Calle Tentenecio.

The first-century Roman bridge in Salamanca, Spain.
The remnant of a wild boar carved out of stone.  It dates from the 13th century.
Let the hike begin!
A stone crucifix at the Puerta del Rio.  It is known as Cruz de los Ajusticiados, the Cross of the Executed.  According to popular tradition, the heads of those executed were hung from the crucifix.  A local newspaper debunked that story, stating the cross is simply one from a 14th century church.
The National Historical Archive building.
A man walking toward the side of the cathedral.
The main façade of the cathedral.
Detail of a portion of the façade of the cathedral.
A man entering the cathedral.

Even though the cathedral was open we did not go in because after two hours on the road we were all looking for a restroom. Now, 09:15 in Spain is like 07:15 in the United States, very little is open. I thought for sure we would find a little coffee shop open.  That would have met all of our needs. Not so much! Everything was closed.  We made our way to the Casa de las Conchas. As we were taking a few photos, I noticed the building actually housed the public library. We went inside and were able to use the restrooms.

The Casa de las Conchas (Shell House).
Three men standing near the entrance to the public library at the Casa de las Conchas.
Carved detail on the Casa de las Conchas.
Another side of the Casa de las Conchas with the church of the University of Salamanca in the background.
Stone carving detail in the public library.
A memorial to the beloved Francisco de Salinas (1513 – 1590).

When we emerged we stumbled across a pastry shop. We bought some coffee and pastries and walked back to the small plaza in front of the Casa de las Conchas. After consuming that, we found a little gift store where we bought some t-shirts and a book on Salamanca.

From there we walked back to the cathedral to go inside. It was quite large and impressive; however, it is not as big as the cathedral in Toledo.  Regardless, we all thought it was very nice.

Construction of the “New Cathedral” began in 1513.  The completion did not occur until 1733!  After viewing the detail throughout the cathedral, one understands why it took so long to build.

The north side of the cathedral.
The trascoro of the cathedral.
The very ornately decorated Dorada Chapel.
A statue of Mary and Jesus catching the morning sun.
The main altar.
An ornate ambo used for proclaiming the gospel.
The main cupola of the cathedral.
Detail of the cupola.
The choir area behind the metal gate.
Detail of the choir area.
People gathering at the Chapel of St. Joseph.
The Chapel of the Virgin of the Truth.
A rack of prayer candles.
A depiction of the Holy Family.
A large painting in the cathedral.
A side hall of the cathedral. The woman is rounding a column toward the choir. She provides a scale of the immensity of the cathedral.  The ceiling must be some 60 feet above her, enough for a six-story building.
The pipe organ in the cathedral.
A tomb along the side of the cathedral.

When we departed the cathedral, we decided to walk to the University of Salamanca.  We based that decision on the advice of the shop keeper we patronized earlier.  He told us the façade of the university had a carved skull with a toad on top.  We would enjoy good luck if we could find the skull.  We discovered when we arrived that the façade is very ornately carved.  None of us could spot the skull.  Finally, a person nearby pointed out the skull.  We all had our aha moment when we finally saw the skull.  I am not sure how the assistance we received may have effected the luck we were to have received…

A typical street in Salamanca.
Patio de las Escuelas (schoolyard) complete with a statue commemorating Fray Luis de Leon.
The façade of the University of Salamanca dates from 1218.
Detail of the façade.
The façade is famous for the skull with the toad on its top. One can see the said skull at the upper left.
Another view of the skull and toad.
The sign for Faith Street.
One of the many cupolas throughout the city.
This likeness of the skull and toad was in one of the many tourist shops. The t-shirt at the lower left reads “before death everything was simple.”

From the university, we walked back to the north along Rua Mayor. We stopped at one of the cafes at about noon, sat down, had a glass of wine, some patatas bravas and watched the people walk by.

A fairy on the wall…
Another view of Casa de las Conchas.
A family walking by the tourist information building.
This seemed an odd juxtaposition of signs.

At the conclusion of our break, we walked about a block to the east to the street called San Pablo. We did that because I wanted to see the Torre de Clavero. After taking a few photographs there we continued our trek to Plaza Mayor. We walked around the perimeter of the plaza and departed, heading south along Calle Melendez.

A memorial marking 400 years since Christopher Columbus discovered America.
Torre del Clavero (Clavero Tower).
Torre del Clavero (Clavero Tower).
The façade of Palacio de la Salina dates from 1538.
Detail of the façade.
Plaza Mayor.
Typical medallions around the plaza.
Another view of Plaza Mayor.

Just after leaving the plaza, there were several artisans with tables set up. Hillary spotted one that braided leather into peoples’ hair. She had to have one!  When that was finally done we made our way back to the car and drove home.

Balloons for sale in front of Iglesia San Martin (St. Martin Church).
A woman preparing leather strips to braid into Hillary’s hair.
Hillary’s braiding beginning.
Hillary held the various beads for use in her hair.
The braid ended up being very long.
A dog wandering around the area.
Hillary and Becca standing by a statue of St. Martha.

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