The facade of the Universidad de Salamanca on the Patio de las Escuelas is probably the most photographed monument of Salamanca.
Indeed the portal and facade is one of the most important monuments in Spain of the plateresque style. Plateresque means "in the manner of a silversmith".
It is an architectural style exclusive of Spain between the late Gothic and early Renaissance in the late 15th century.
The façade above the portico of the university is richly decorated in relief, often in medallions or cartouches. There are the portraits of the "Reyes Catolicos" Ferdinand and Isabelle, the arms of Emperor Charles Quint (in Spain Carlos I) and higher a pope and other figures. The iconography of the images is still controversy.
Actually what is of real interest for the students and the visitors is a sculpture of frog "rana" on a skull at mid level of the right pilaster.
According to the legend students who found "a" frog would get a university degree. Others say they have to find "the" frog on the façade. But that would make succeeding in studies too easy as everybody knows where is that frog on the pilaster! So this is another subject of iconographic controversy in Salamanca.
More probably that the frog on the skull, representing the sin of lust associated here to death, served as a warning to students about the behavior they should have. In a city with about 6000 students in the 16th c., all men, the sin of lust was supposed to be quite widespread!
The university of Salamanca Minor Schools would prepare students for a bachelor's degree, first step to a license or doctor's degree. You can visit them and I strongly recommend the patio from 1428 which is wonderful in its elegant simplicity. This style of arches is called "Salamantin" as it is specific to Salamanca.
You can see on the arches red "V" graffiti. It's a tradition going back to the 15th c. Students having obtained their Doctor's degree would paint them meaning "Victor Victoria".
From this patio you can enter the University museum (same ticket as the main university building Escuelas Mayores on the other side of the Plaza). Well know here is the painted ceiling by Fernando Gallego, the Sky of Salamanca, which shows the signs of the zodiac and mythological elements.
Upstairs in the Escuelas Mayores behind a beautiful Renaissance door and gate of 1526 you can see one of the oldest university libraries in Europe containing manuscripts going back to the 11th c. The books are stored on wooden shelves; there are globes adding to that particular décor of old libraries I like very much. The fund consists of 40.000 volumes mainly from the 16th to 18th c.
On the first floor you will discover the old classrooms, organized around a central courtyard.
The most interesting of these is the Aula Fray Luis de León, who still has the original benches and the pulpit of the most famous professor of Salamanca. He was denounced to the Inquisition for his translation and commentary of the Hebraic Song of Songs and for criticizing the text of the Vulgate. He was consequently imprisoned at Valladolid from March 1572 until December 1576; the charges against him were then abandoned, and he was released with an admonition.
He returned to Salamanca as a professor of Biblical exegesis and held the chairs of Moral Philosophy and Biblical Studies.
After spending five years in prison he resumed his course to the spot where it left off, saying: "Dicebamus hesterna die - Like I said yesterday"
The statue of this great man stands on the patio de las Escuelas facing the main façade of the University.
As what concerns the room where he was teaching, the furniture is the original from the 16th c. The benches were a marked progress because usually students were sitting on the ground.
It is possible to visit the interior of the old university called "Escuelas Mayores" Major Schools.
The old lecture-rooms are placed around a two-story cloister.
On the patio opens the Assembly room called "Paraninfo" where important events are celebrated. The room is decorated with 17th c. tapestries from Brussels and a portrait of Carlos IV, by Goya.
It is also the place where the confrontation between the rector Miguel de Unamuno (famous Spanish thinker and writer.1864-1936) and the general Millan Astray took place in October 12th, 1936 during the terrible Spanish Civil War.
The Renaissance staircase is one of the artistic treasures of Spain.
Open: Monday - Friday 9.30 - 13 h & 16 - 19 h.; Saturday 9.30 - 13h & 16 - 18.30 h;
Sunday and public holidays 10 - 13 h.
Price: 4 €; reduced 2€; free 12 yr and Monday morning.
The Universidad de Salamanca was founded by king Alfonso IX in 1218, which makes it one of the most ancient university in Europe. Over 30,000 students attend its faculties today.
Many famous people either studied or taught at this university, including the conqueror of Mexico Hernan Cortés and many great Spanish writers or literates (such as Luis de Góngora, Calderón de la Barca and Miguel de Unamuno).
The building is one the best examples of Plateresque, a typical Spanish architectural style with many decorations. It is open to visitors on Mondays - Saturdays from 9.30 to 13.30 and from 16 to 19.30 (19 on Saturdays) as well as on Sundays and holidays from 10 to 13.30. Entrance is free on Monday morning and students with a student card enjoy a 50% discount.
The Universidad de Salamanca (University of Salamanca) was founded in 1.218, gaining a reputation outside of Spain as a great cultural and teaching centre.
The University building has a square base, and the most famous is the façade, Plateresque style.
In the centre of the square, facing the main façade, the statue of Fray Luis de León (1.527-1.591), (last pic), famous Spanish lyric poet and an Augustinian canon, of the Spanish Golden Age.
Spanish poet of the 16th century.
The ancient university is famous in the Spanish world, and was one of the leading institutions during the Renaissance period, but suffered prosecution from the church afterwards. Today it is again one of the leading education institutions of Spain. Its most famous figure is Fray Anaya who despite religious prosecution did not abandon his views and desire to teach.
The University of Salamanca was founded by King Alfonse IX in 1218. In 1254 Pope Alexander IV made it an official university. The facade was built in the first half of the 16th century and is one of the most important Spanish Plateresque facades.
After leaving the steps of the Cathedral, we head across to the University. This university, the second oldest in the world, is quite impressive. Made of the same golden stone as the Cathedral, the University has unique markings in red on many of the edifices. The markings, we are told, are ancient graffiti that was commissioned to reference the academic achievements of some of the important figures of the university. Housing the Minorite schools and the Salamanca Museum, the University is an important stop on the tour.
After searching for the Astronaut at the Cathedral, we are up to the challenge to look for a frog that is perched on one of the three skulls carved into the façade of the University. After some time, we need to ask for help in locating the pesky amphibian due to the complexity and number of the carvings.
The University of Salamanca, founded in the 13th Century, is the oldest university in Spain, and one of the oldest in Europe. It consists of many old stone buildings. One of the most famous places on the campus is the Patio de Escuelas - where there is a huge wall with carvings all over it. Try to find the hidden frog in the wall. Legend has it that if a foreign student sees it without anyone's help, he/she will pass all their exams with flying colours.
In the summer, there are sometimes open-air concerts in the Patio de Escuelas, free admission. No big names though (the big names play at indoor venues), mainly just small bands from other cities. During my second trip, there were a few jazz concerts at night there.
The Plaza de Anaya is also surrounded by university buildings.
The University of Salamanca was founded in the 13th Century. But the fantastic facade of the building, called Plateresque, dates to the Spanish Rennaisance of the 16th Century. Amongst the carvings there is hidden amongst numerous images and designs, a frog. Legend is that if one can find it, then he/she will have good luck. And, be married within a years time!
Inside are an assortment of rooms including a library with books dating back 600 years. Admission is charged to enter.
This University was the first one in Spain; it was founded at 1218, but its frontage was built at 16th century, in plateresque style. Of course, to visit this University is a duty for any illustrated human being.
The famous quote "Quod Natura non dat, Salamantica non praestat" (What nature does not give, Salamanca does not lend)refers to this University.
Esta Universidad fue la primera en España; fue fundada en 1218, pero su fachada fue construida en el siglo XVI, en estilo plateresco.
Por supuesto, visitar esta Universidad es el deber de cualquier persona ilustrada.
La cita "Quod Natura non dat, Salamantica non praestat" (lo que la naturaleza no da, Salamanca no lo presta) hace referencia a esta Universidad.