Two days in Salamanca

It was a cool and rainy Sunday afternoon when we arrived in Salamanca and took a stroll around the area near our hotel.  Plaza Mayor was around the corner. Built from 1729 to 1755, bullfights were held in this plaza until 1893.

Our tour book says that it’s a popular gathering place for university students, residents and tourists.  I bet it’s packed in the summer.

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DSC07661 C Plaza Mayor (600x450)

DSC07657 C Near our apt (450x600)  DSC07660 C (600x450)

DSC07664 C (450x600)  DSC07668 C Iglesia de San Martin (450x600)

You could almost miss this church tucked between buildings just outside the Plaza – Iglesia San Martin.

DSC07984 C Iglesia de San Martin (450x600)  DSC07669 C (600x450)

DSC07985 C Iglesia de San Martin (450x600)  DSC07670 C (600x450)

The Plaza Mayor is pretty at night.

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The weather did not improve for our first full day in Salamanca but that didn’t stop us.  We made our way to the Convento de las Duenas and had it to ourselves!  Founded in 1419, the church and cloisters were built in 1533. 

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I love cloisters!  Will had to drag me out of here…..back into the rain.  But it was time for lunch.

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We found a restaurant with upstairs dining that looked over it’s bar.

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To get out of the rain we ducked into the Salina Palace which is now government offices.

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A few more sites on this rainy day…

DSC07754 C Torre del Clavero (450x600)  DSC07756 C Torre del Clavero (450x600)

Torre del Clavero houses more government offices.  It was part of a palace built in the 15th century.  It has a square base that turns into an octagon as it goes up.  It also has smaller towers on each of its eight angles.

DSC07755 C Plaza de Colon (450x600) Plaza de Colon (Columbus Square)

Not sure which plaza this is – it’s hard to hold a map, a camera and an umbrella at the same time!

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There were not many people out in the rain here.

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This is the Palacio Figueroa, a 16th-century mansion that is now an exclusive Casino.

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Our second day in Salamanca brought blue skies!  We walked up the Rua Mayor to the Cathedrals of Salamanca.

DSC07772 C Calle Rua Mayor - Catherdral Tower (450x600)

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DSC07775 C New Cathedral (450x600)  DSC07774 C (450x600)

There are two cathedrals right next to each other.  The old one was built in the 12th century.  Rather than tear it down, they built the new one (1513 to 1733) with a door between the two.  Actually a wall of the new cathedral rests on a wall of the old so the old wall had to be reinforced.

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The old Cathedral is Romanesque.  The altarpiece has 53 scenes from the lives of Mary and Jesus.

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The new Cathedral is Gothic and Baroque.  A huge choir fills the middle of the center nave.  Pictures are inadequate to show how large the space is.  

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DSC07788 C New Cathedral (450x600)  DSC07810 C (450x600)

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The new Cathedral dome on the left, the old one on the right.

 

The delightful Casa Lis was a small private palace built in the early 20th century by a merchant from Salamanca who loved Art Nouveau.  In 1992 it was restored and transformed into a museum.  It’s filled with stained glass, vases, furniture, jewelry and dolls from the era.

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No pictures were allowed inside.  I found this one on the internet.

Casa Lis C

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Almost across the street from the Casa Lis is the Roman Bridge.

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And just down the street from the bridge are parts of the old city walls.

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After lunch we visited the church of San Esteban (St Stephen).

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DSC07876 C (600x450)  DSC07877 C San Estaban (600x450)

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Though the church was begun in 1524, the façade of the Church was not finished until 1610.

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The King’s Cloister was completed in 1544.

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There are storks nesting on the towers.

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De Soto’s staircase was built between 1553 and 1556 without any interior support.  It felt a little weird to climb on because it’s uneven and sagging down to the inside.  This statue, under the balustrade, is Mary Magdalen at prayer.

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The altarpiece of the Church is made of 4,000 pieces of wood.  Above it is a painting of St. Stephen.

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The Clerecia Church is now headquarters of Salamanca Pontificia University.

DSC07969 C (450x600)  DSC07770 C Clerecia Towers (450x600)

DSC07974 C (450x600)  DSC07771 C Casa de las Conchas (600x450)

DSC07976 C Casa de las Conchas (399x600)  DSC07972 -3 Stitch C Casa de las Conchas (600x528)

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This sunny afternoon the Plaza Mayor was a little busier. 

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Posted in Salamanca, Spain | Tagged , , , , , | 9 Comments

Avila – an old walled city

Last spring we cruised to Spain.  We spent one night in Cartagena, picked up a rental car and headed north. 

Our drive took us up into the mountains and past El Escorial, about 30 miles northwest of Madrid.   Philip II was very religious and built Escorial in the mid 1500s to be a retreat from the secular world.  He designed it to be a palace, monastery and a grand mausoleum for Spain’s royal family.

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It was late afternoon and we only had time for a couple photos from the highway.

Avila was our destination for the night.  It is 3700 feet above sea level and in April it was pretty chilly.

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Avila, a Unesco World Heritage site, is famous for its complete preserved medieval walls.  Begun in 1090 the walls enclose 77 acres, are 2.5 kilometers long and have 9 gates.  Avila is also the birthplace of Mother Teresa.   

The streets in the historic area are very narrow.  Driving inside the old city was a trial.  We were able to drop our bags at the hotel but had to park our car outside the city walls.  The hotel was the former renaissance palace of the Velada family.  Our room was small but the hotel was worth the hassle. 

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We had dinner in this beautiful courtyard and breakfast was served in another large atrium.  Just what you would expect from a palace!

Just around the corner from the hotel was the Cathedral of Avila.  Forming part of the city walls, the Cathedral was begun in 1107 and completed in the 16th century.  It was the first Gothic cathedral in Spain.  The exterior shows the medieval alliance between “the cross and the sword”, fortress on top and church below.

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Lots of narrow streets and alleys make this a fun little town to get lost in… on foot.

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You are never far from the fortified walls.  Like the Cathedral, many buildings are built directly in the wall.

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Built in the 15th century, the Los Guzmanes Tower houses the Regional Government.

The Convent of St Teresa was built in the 17th century.  In the same plaza is the Sala de Reliquias where there is reported to be a shop that shows off, among other relics, Teresa’s finger still wearing an emerald ring.  Eww…

DSC07619 C Convento de Santa Teresa (600x450)  DSC07621 C (600x450)

DSC07620 C Puerta de Santa Teresa (600x450)  DSC07623 C (450x600)

 

DSC07625 C Mansion de los Polentinos (600x450)

The Palace of Polentinos was built in the early 16th century.  It became a Military Academy in 1875 and is now a Military History Archive and Army Museum.

 

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Plaza del Mercado Chico

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DSC07634 C view of Cathedral (600x450)  DSC07635 C (600x450)

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DSC07655 C Cuatro Postes (600x450)

The best view of Avila was on our drive out of town at the Cuatro Postes (the four posts).

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DSC07648 C the Cathedral (600x450)  DSC07649 C (600x450)

DSC07654 C Puerta de Carmen (600x450) (2)

On to the north of Spain……

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Posted in Avila, Spain, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments