Thursday, December 3, 2009

Salamanca, Castilla y León

Not to be confused with the up-market district in Madrid, Salamanca here refers to the ancient city in Castilla y León, west of Spain.

Clustered along part of the River Tormes, the city of Salamanca had been under the reigns of various powers from the Carthaginians, to the Romans, to the Moors. This enchanting city is declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, and it is well known for its University, which is the oldest in Spain (founded in the early 13th Century).

Above: The Cathedral of Salamanca, one of the city's most emblematic piece of architecture.

Above: The astronaut carving on the external façade of the New Cathedral.

One of the quirky things to notice 'hidden' among the ornate carvings of the Cathedral is this little astronaut which seems totally out of place on the façade of a religious monument. This playful carving is one of the contemporary symbols added during a restoration of the New Cathedral in 1992. It is common practice for architects to 'sign-off' their work and Jeronimo Garcia, who was responsible for the restoration chose an astronaut as he sees it a befitting representation of the 20th Century.

** If you think that's strange, try spotting a demon holding an ice cream cone too. Also, don't forget to spot the frog carving on the University building's façade, as there's a believe that if you do, you'd be blessed with good luck and a promising love life ;-) **

Above: The external façades of the Holy Spirit Church (La Clerecía) and the House of Shells (Casa de la Conchas), a building that dates back to the 15th Century.

Above: Plaza Mayor in Salamanca, said to be the most impressive one in Spain.

Above: Simple the historical center.

There are several bridges over the River Tormes linking the city and the most iconic one is probably the Roman Bridge (Puente Romano).

Above: The Roman Bridge, made of granite arches.

Above: Relaxation on the river bank.

Above: View of the Cathedrals from the opposite side.

Above: A tree-lined avenue next to the Iglesia de la Santísima Trinidad del Arrabal.

Above: Sun setting over the nearby Hotel Puente Romano de Salamanca.

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