The Plaza Mayor and its Surroundings

The nerve centre of the city, Salamanca’s main square has adopted a myriad of uses over the centuries from being a market, a bullring and a meeting point to spend the hours idly chatting away. Today, it is the place where practically everyone and everything converges.

Beyond doubt the main square is the most important urban space in the old quarter, and one, which day after day, throbs with the pulse of the city, both during the day, and at night. Baroque in style - although with Herrerian and Renaissance influences – it continues to combine all of its commitments as it has during its long and colourful history.

Compañía Street is perhaps the most beautiful or at least visually striking thoroughfare in the city. Here we can discover Salamanca’s most select palaces – a true reflection of the city’s importance and of how it flourished in the 15th and 16th Centuries.

The Monterrey Palace, now property of the House of Alba, and and just a few steps away the Churches of Purisma and Las Angustias, were all founded by the III Count of Monterrey who wished to have a funeral parlour opposite his palace run by closed order nuns.

A little further on, we come across the Old Fonseca College, one of Salamanca University’s four oldest colleges and which during the summer months stages a host of events inside its magnificent cloister.

The House of Shells, characterizes the power wielded by its owners and of the union of two important members of the nobility: Arias Maldonado and Juana Pimentel, Dame to Queen Isabella the Catholic whose coat of arms featured the image of a shell.

We bring this section of our tour to a close at the Corrillo Square, where we find the Saint Martín Church. This square was also known as “Corrillo de la yerba”- or ‘grassy divide’, as it was formed by a patch of thick grass. The patch separated the Saint Martín and Saint Benito churches, two churches which had Salamanca’s nobility in confrontation during the 14th and 15th Centuries for the control of the regional government.

This square was also once a market where livestock was sold; the arcade is the clue here, it was also the place chosen for romantic rendezvous, and if we take a close look at the columns, we can see astral representations of the days of the week which were once used by young poets hoping to impress their date.

In Salamanca, everything revolves around this square which, for three centuries has invited us to marvel at its majesty as we cross from one side to the other. During our visit, it is a worthwhile experience to just sit and take a breather on one of the many benches or terraces to people gaze and gain an insight into the daily lives of the inhabitants of this fascinating city.