In a beautiful quarter composed by the university's squares, classic buildings and churches, the dominant sight belongs to the bell tower of the old cathedral.
Looking carefully, it's easy to see the signs of Lisbon's earthquake, that almost forced to its demolition.
Building the Catedral Nueva started in 1513. The main structure was finished in 1560 but adjunctions went on during the following century so that inauguration and consecration waited until 1733.
To the Gothic style from the begin were added some later styles such as Baroque over the two centuries and several architects, but the cathedral, I'm pleased to say, retained a stylistic unity.
It is a rectangular church with three naves and numerous chapels between the buttresses.
The much imposing choir and major chapel (Coro - Capilla mayor) from 1730 is certainly what first attracts the visitors with an image of the Assumption of the Virgin to which the cathedral is dedicated.
Among the side chapels the Capilla de Nuestra Senora de la Soledad, our Lady of Solitude, is one of the deepest images of devotion in Salamanca.
In the right aisle of the old cathedral doors lead to the cloister, a series of chapels and chapter houses. Interesting are the chapels of San Salvador, the oldest of the cloister, the Santa Barbara chapel where university exams were taken till 1843.
The largest chapel Santa Catalina was used for the choirs as well as for academic events.
Two chapter houses are now a museum with paintings and sculptures from the fourteenth to seventeenth centuries. The sculptures (photo 2) I saw here are not really what I like in the field of religious art!
From the cloister there are views on the tower and roof of the cathedral (photo 1).
The chapel of Anaya is the last and most interesting of the four chapels around the cloister (photo 3).
What immediately strucks the visitor inside the old cathedral is the apse with the altarpiece made of 53 tables between 1430 and 1450 by the three brothers Delli from Italy. They represent the life of the Virgin Mary from her birth to her death, accompanied by scenes from the life of Jesus and topped by a magnificent Last Judgment.
The colours are bright, especially the pink. There is here a masterful combination of Italian painting mixed with typical details of Flemish painting. I haven't seen something similar elsewhere.
The shell of the apse shows the Last Judgment by Nicolas Delli. It is said that the iconographic scheme of Jesus Christ is the same as later used by Michelangelo for the Judgment of the Sistine Chapel. It's interesting to see that among the figures of the damned there is a bishop and a pope!
The gilded sculpture inlaid with precious stones is that as the Virgin de la Vega, patron saint of the city of Salamanca.
The main entrance of the Catredal Nueva called Portada del Nacimiento (west side) is spectacular with three richly carved arcs, each leading to the three naves of the church.
The main scenes are the Nativity and the Epiphany. At the top there is the crucifiction of Christ flanked by the figures of Saints Peter and Paul.
You might be wondering why all tourists are taking photos of the left archivolt of this door located on the north side of the new cathedral and not of the relief above the entrance depicting Jesus on the donkey on Palm Sunday.
They are taking photos of a number of curiosities which were sculptured during the restoration of 1993. Most curious by its anachronism is an astronaut, there is also a monkey eating ice cream, a stork (well present live on the roofs of the cathedral).
It's a game for the tourists to find all these figures.
The cathedral is especially nice at night when floodlighted. The façade (north) on the plaza de Anaya has an entrance "Puerta de Ramos" with on the right in the back the old cathedral (catredal vieja) with the bell tower and on the left the baroque cupola of the new "catredal nueva".
It's something unique that a new cathedral was constructed (1513 - 1560) without the subsequent destruction of the old cathedral (12th c.). A wall of the new cathedral leans on the North wall of the old one. The walls of the old cathedral had to be reinforced so that the bell tower could be constructed on the old one.
The main entrance is spectacular with three richly carved arcs, each leading to the three naves of the church.
If you can zoom on my photo you will see that storks are standing on various upper parts of the roof. There were many storks in Salamanca when we visited.
In reality, there are two Cathedrals in Salamanca joined together:
- The Catedral Nueva (New Cathedral) from the 16th century.
- The Catedral Vieja (Old Cathedral) dating from the 12th-13th centuries
Entry fee: New Cathedral: Free admission. Old Cathedral, Cloister and Museum: General admission: €4.25 Reduced: €3.50 (groups, over 20 people, retired people and students); €2.75 (schoolchildren). Free: Tuesdays, 10.00am-12.00midday (Dec. '08).
- Fax: (+34) 9213 28 10 45
The New Cathedral is called this way because it replaced the earlier XII century structure (see the Ancient Cathedral tip). In fact it was started in 1512 to reflect the wealth and prestige of the city, and was finished only in 1733, and is one of the most beautiful cathedrals of Spain. It is located on a high point in the center of the old town facing Plaza Anaya. It was free to enter.
The tree principal architects were Jual Gil de Hontanon, his son Juan Gil el Mozo, then Juan de Ibarra and Juan de Alava.
One of the most interesting architectural features Salamanca has to offer are its two cathedrals. Unlike what usually happens, the newer church wasn't built over or at the place of a former building, so that today tourists can visit both the catedral vieja (old cathedral) and the catedral nueva (new cathedral). The former dates of the 12th century and was built in Romanesque style, whereas the latter was built in the 16th and 18th centuries in Gothic and Baroque styles.
The bodies of the two cathedrals meet in what is called el patio chico (see the second pic).
Let's have a closer look at some portals of the catedral nueva in the next tip.
After walking along on the bridge, we come to the base of the hill leading up toward the Cathedral. Salamanca is distinct in that it has not one, but two cathedrals, or rather an Old Cathedral (Catedral Vieja) which was added onto to make the New Cathedral (Catedral Nueva). The terms “old” and “new” are relative in this case since the Old Cathedral dates to 1150, while the New Cathedral is not so “new” having started construction in 1513.
We enter the New Cathedral and are in awe of the height and beauty of the nave. The architecture is late-Gothic with Renaissance touches.
The Cathedral (and most other buildings in Salamanca) was constructed of a regional stone known as villamayor which reflects the suns rays in the late afternoon turning the exterior into a beautiful golden color, thus the reason for Salamanca’s nickname the “Golden City.” The façade of the New Cathedral is an excellent example of Flamboyant Gothic architecture. We enjoy searching for an astronaut among the typical religious carvings, which was the touch of the stonemasons who restored some areas of the façade.
October to March: from 10:00 to 12:30 and from 16:00 to 17:30. April to September: from 10:00 to 13:30 and from 16:00 to 19:30.
At the end of the 15th century, and as a consequence of the importance that the city of Salamanca had reached, mostly because of the numerous students that were studying there, it was decided to build a new Cathedral, which came to be more magnificent than the older one, that became too small for the city needs.
The New Cathedral’s construction begun in 1513 and since there were several people in charge of this construction over the years, several architectonical styles are mixed: Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque.
The Cathedral is huge and imposing when seen in the inside, with several chapels, most of them very beautiful. My favourite, though, was the choir room, with majestic wooden carvings. Also, the pipe organ is awesome. Don’t forget to look up and notice the beautiful stained glass on the curved ceilings.
The New Cathedral may be visited free of charge. This monument may get overcrowded, as we visited off-peak and during the week, and still there were a lot of visitors around.
In the Plaza de Anaya, there is a huge cathedral, and it's absolutely beautiful. Both inside and out. I went to Sunday Mass at that cathedral, and one of the things I loved most about the inside was the beautiful statues of saints. Josh also loved the cathedral and longed to play his trumpet inside it, because of the high ceilings and big spaces. Unfortunately, he wasn't allowed.
There are carvings around one of the doors that have something unusual included - an astronaut! There is also a monster with an ice cream cone near the astronaut. A local man pointed those out to me. Apparently, this cathedral is newer than a lot of other churches in town, and the builders wanted to add a modern touch to it.
As for other churches, they're all over town. Spain is historically Catholic, so there are old churches in every part of the downtown area.
Salamanca has a peculiar condition: it has two Cathedrals. The Old one, a charming Romanesque building (12th and 13th centuries) has a magnificent retable; the New one (16th century) has Gothic, Renaissence and Baroque elements, and its façades are masterpieces.
To visit the Old Cathedral, you must come into the New one.
Salamanca tiene una condición particular: tiene dos Catedrales. La Vieja, un encantador edificio románico (siglos XII y XIII) tiene un magnífico retablo; la Nueva, (siglo XVI), reúne elementos góticos, renacentistas y barrocos, y sus fachadas son obras maestras.
Para visitar la Catedral Vieja, deben atravesar la Nueva.