Salamanca, Via de la Plata
Salamanca is a city in western Spain, on the Via de la Plata, in the community of Castile and León. Known for its beautiful buildings and urban environment, the Old City has declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988.
It is the most important university city in Spain and the University of Salamanca, which was founded in 1218, is the oldest university in Spain and the third oldest western university. The city was founded in the pre-Ancient Rome period by the Vacceos, a Celtic tribe, as one of a pair of forts to defend their territory near the Duero river.
In the 3rd century BC, Hannibal laid siege to the city. With the fall of the Carthaginians to the Romans, the city of Helmantica, as it was known, began to take more importance as a commercial hub in the Roman Hispania due to its favourable location.
Salamanca lay on a Roman road, known as the Vía de la Plata, which connected it with Emerita Augusta (present-day Mérida) to the south and Asturica Augusta (present-day Astorga) to the north. Its Roman bridge dates from the first century and was a part of this road.
The Old City of Salamanca was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988. Some buildings of note in this old part are the Irish College, Iglesia de San Marcos and Convento de las Claras. The Plaza Mayor is also worth taking a stroll around.
The classic dish of the Salamancan, known as Charreria (“peasant lands”), is a cocido, a slow-cooked casserole including chickpeas.
Another traditional dish of Salamanca is Hornazo, which is a meat pie made with flour and yeast and stuffed with pork loin, spicy chorizo sausage and hard-boiled eggs.