Salamanca in northwest Spain is famous for its ornate sandstone architecture, its university, the religious buildings and the beautiful expanse of the Plaza Mayor. I love the river there too and the old bridge.
This was our second day in Salamanca and what a great place to celebrate my husband’s birthday. We knew we’d be heading to the wonderful Plaza Mayor square for lunch but before that we were looking forward to visiting the famous Art Nouveau & Art Deco Museum. We’d struck it lucky as on a Thursday, which it was, admission is free. I would have loved to have taken lots of pictures in there but it wasn’t allowed. The small bronze and marble scuptures are superb as are the many glass pieces intricately worked also the furniture and textiles. There’s a large collection of porcelain dolls, many of which were earily lifelike, not to my taste but superbly well made. This is one of the best collections of Art Deco and Art Nouveau muesums we’ve visited, so many pieces I would love to have in our little cottage!
Glad to say there was no restriction on taking pictures of the pieces in the cafe which needless to say were copies.
I also bought a few postcards in the shop but resisted the temptation to buy anything else. Copies or not of pieces in the museum, …they were all very expensive! Afterwards we walked into the city and headed for the beautiful square of Plaza Mayor surely one of the most beautiful squares in Spain?
Walking along the streets of this fine city is an absolute joy. I love the architecture and the colours of the buildings. Quite a few have inscriptions on the walls which are called vitores. Centuries ago they were written in bulls blood and I suppose due to the moderate climate in this area, the writing is still clear to see. There can’t be many better places to have lunch on your birthday than sitting at at one of the cafes in Plaza Mayor watching the world go by and enjoying a glass or two of wine.
It wasn’t easy to drag ourselves away from the square but we had more sightseeing to do. First of all we headed for the University, All group tours include a stop at the entrance which is a wonderfully carved facade with a hidden frog in a small square. Everyone is of course chlallenged to find it. I waited a while to get a clear shot of the entrance but it didn’t happen, however the picture on the left gives a good idea of the intricate carvings. Thankfully the courtyard was very quiet. We didn’t go into the University which is the oldest in Europe as we were in need of a siesta.
If the streets of Salamanca during the day are full of things to do and see, it’s a joy at night to wander along and admire the Gothic and Baroque architecture of some of the landmark buildings. By the evening too, the tour buses have left.
It was our final evening in Salamanca so we couldn’t resist having one last look at Plaza Mayor.
Segovia is a World Heritage City in central Spain and like Toledo, the oldest part was built around and atop of a hillside with narrow streets which wind upwards towards the magnificent cathedral. It’s one of the highest cities in Spain. Finding our hotel wasn’t easy especially navigating through the medieval quarter but after asking a couple of locals we arrived outside Hotel Don Felipe. A quick dash in to get the directions for the hotel garage which was built inside the rock. Not easy to park in there but the lift took us straight into the hotel. Three flights of stairs later and we had a stunning view of the Alcazar from our balacony.
The Alcazar dating back to the 12th century and part of the city wall.
With only a short time to look around the city we started at the famous aqueduct. It’s one of the best-preserved Roman aqueducts in the world and measures 800 metres. It really is impressive and even more so when you climb up the Postigo steps at the side to look along it. No mortar was used in its construction with each block placed on top of the other. These Romans knew what they were doing. The grooves you can see at the side of the higher blocks were made by dragging and raising the blocks into position.
Leaving that area we walked through part of the Jewish quarter with very narrow streets and tall buildings. Some of the courtyards in this area are apparently well worth visiting but we didn’t have time. We decided to visit the Cathedral instead of the main Synagogue.
This Gothic Cathedral dominates the town and was built between 1525 and 1577. The height of the pillars is immense and the cloisters are superb. Included in the ticket price of £6.17 is acess to the Bell Tower which gives you a 360 degree view over the city.
One last visit we managed to squeeze in that afternoon was to The Alcazar Fortress. We found the interior quite disappointing unless you’re keen on armoury but the narrow climb up to the tower was worth it – great views.
Apparently the Disney Corporation used the castle as the design for the film ‘Cinderella’. It does have a fairytale look about it.
After our visit we went back to our hotel for a well-earned rest. We’d booked a restaurant Asador David Guijarro for our last meal of the holiday which meant a walk through the city streets. What we hadn’t expected was coming across a procession marking the start of Semana Santa (Holy Week). It seemed like all the townspeople were involved. It certainly lasted quite a while so we were a litle delayed getting to the restaurant.
Walking back through the quiet streets of Segovia was great. We’d had a good meal and now we were looking forward to going home. We’d had a great time touring central Spain. It’s difficult to say which city and village we’d enjoyed the most but probably Salamanca was our favourite city I hope all these Blogs have inspired you to go and visit, so much to see and do.