Advertise here

University of Salamanca


  - 1 opinions

The Oldest University in Spain

Translated by Kate Norman — 6 months ago

Original text by Marion Hernandez

The University of Salamanca (or Universitas Studii Salmanticensis) is one of the most emblematic buildings in the city. It can be found in the old town, not very far from the cathedral. The cathedral played a significant role in the fact that the old part of Salamanca became a UNESCO world Heritage Site in 1988. It was founded in 1218 and therefore it is the oldest University in Spain and the 4th oldest in Europe.

The oldest University in Spain

Source

The oldest University in Spain

Due to all of this, it played a tremendous cultural and demographic role in the life of the city that has attracted many students from different cities and countries all over the world. In fact, as I learnt during my visit to the cathedral's towers, Salamanca had 15, 000 inhabitants in 1520 and 7, 000 of those were students. Imagine that! It's almost half of the population...

This school is named "mayor" because they mainly teach the four "most important" University degrees of the era here. These include Canon Law of the Catholic Church, Civil Rights Law, Theology and Medicine. However, the University's motto reflects this idea, moving away from the Humanities: Omnium scientiarum princeps Salmantica docet = "The University of Salamanca is the front-runner in the teaching of all the sciences".

The oldest University in Spain

The façade of this school is worth stopping for. It has a very decorated effect, like almost all of the city (you can't walk more than five metres without stopping to admire something in the old town). It has quite a few figures sculpted into the rock, among them the frog (and the skull) is highlighted. Traditionally, the "Salamantino" students search for the frog on the façade of the school, and if they find it, it brings them good luck for their exams. Now, the frog has become one of the symbols of Salamanca: an intellectual symbol together with the cockerel, which is a spiritual symbol located on the weather vane on top of the "rooster tower" in the old cathedral, and the bull - a symbol of the working class in the City Hall. This is also something that is explained to you during the guided visit of the towers.

The oldest University in Spain

Well, it may be enough to see the University from the outside, also taking into account that it is 10 euros to enter (well, 5 if you don't forget your student card! ).

The oldest University in Spain

Source

What's good to know:

  • Yes, the visit is expensive but it is worth it! Plus, with the ticket, you also get entry to the College of Archbishop Fonsecas (near the Monterrey Palace and the San Francisco Park).
  • If you pay 2 euros more, they will give you an audio guide. However, I didn't get one and I thought that there was enough information on the plaques on the walls, in the entrances of the rooms and included in the various videos that they play inside.
  • The current library, unlike the old one, cannot be visited even though it is on the first floor (it covers an entrance wing).
  • If you search for the "Cielo de Salamanca" (a mural on the University Library's ceiling), that was previously in the old library (the one that allowed you to visit), it is not in the University. I'm telling you this because we were wrong and like it was the Constitution Bridge, or the weekend and a festival, when we realised it was already too late and the place had shut... But another time. So, you can find the "Cielo de Salamanca" in the patio of the "Menores de Salamanca" School, which is quite close and free to see.

The oldest University in Spain

Source

Now we can start our visit inside the University. It is also very decorated. It is quite classic, a square with a patio from which you can see the bells.

The oldest University in Spain

Don't forget to raise your eyes to the roof which is also decorated.

The oldest University in Spain

The oldest University in Spain

On visiting the University you will find:

  • Various classrooms: They give classes here, each one is dedicated to a great personality who are each important to the University, the city and Spanish culture and often university professors too. For example, there is a room dedicated to Miguel de Unamuno, and another to Fray Luis de León, a poet, humanist and Renaissance religious figure who belonged to the Salamantine School and studied Theology in this University. In this room specifically, you can see a desk made of wood.
  • The oldest University in Spain

    Source

  • The Assembly Hall: this room is without a doubt one of the most decorated in the Salamantina University. Home to the graduation ceremonies, one of the most important and ceremonial rituals in the faculty (procession in the school, traditional clothing... ). Next to the door there is a video that gives more details about the topic and in it you can see the students' procession in their graduation clothes. They also celebrate other important events for the University here, like the start of the course or the inauguration ceremony.
  • The Staircase of Knowledge: in the inner part (and also in the exterior) it is decorated with sculptures basically representing a procession towards enlightenment and knowledge, a Manichean choice between good and evil, reason and passions, humanity and animality. As the video explains (well at least the part I heard about the bottom of the stairs), it appears as very symbolic and I think it's a good idea to put an explanatory video to make the more or less "dark" images become a little clearer. But, if I can have a critique, although they were interesting to me, it seems that the videos were a little too long.
  • The oldest University in Spain

    The oldest University in Spain

  • The Holy Men: two paintings on the wall, with a candle in his hand, basically to prevent the bride and groom from kissing in the corners of the university.
  • The jewel of the University, from my point of view: the Old Library! "Ancient" because it is no longer used. At the end of the 19th century they decided that it needed to be expanded and took advantage of the extension of the upper wings of the faculty to create the new library (which can't be visited). "Library" because it houses 2795 manuscripts from the 11th to the 20th centuries. Due to its wealth and antiquity, you cannot enter as it is protected by a glass wall. However, you can see it and take photos.

    As I said at the beginning, it doesn't have "El Cielo de Salamanca", which was a mural that covered the roof and showed constellations. Even though it is deprived of this, the library is still marvellous. First, one can stay at the entrance and observe the door and its many sculptures. I'm telling you, it's a good feature. But if you go a little further, you will discover a treasure...

    The oldest University in Spain

    Hundreds of books, sculptures, ancient globes of the earth, scientific instruments, carvings on the wooden shelves... However, I was surprised by the large size of the room and its luminosity. Furthermore, it should be noted that above each shelf, there is an emblem and the handwritten name of the subject. In short, to say that I loved the place is an understatement.

    The oldest University in Spain

    The oldest University in Spain

    Source

  • Diverse and varied objects from a remote era in time, ancient manuscripts, mapas from the Golden Age of Cartography, natural sciences and anatomy posters (in French! ), dissection models of animals (frog, mushrooms) and mannequins for training for medicine...

The oldest University in Spain

Well, I think you've got to get a move on and get to that special place. My article isn't finished, and I chose the places I wanted to speak about and show photos of in a quite a subjective way, but I hope that you liked it. Forgive me if it's too long, but this place is so incredible that you could write an entire book about it!

The oldest University in Spain

The oldest University in Spain

The oldest University in Spain

Photo gallery



Rate and comment about this place!

Do you know University of Salamanca? Share your opinion about this place.


Don’t have an account? Sign up.

Wait a moment, please

Run hamsters! Run!