Golden sandstone buildings which seem to glow gold, orange and pink as the sun sets earned this city the nickname La Dorada, or the Golden City. Discover Salamanca while sailing our Enticing Douro or Flavors of Portugal & Spain itineraries. Known for being one of the most stunning Renaissance cities throughout Europe, Salamanca was first founded in the pre-Ancient Rome era in roughly the 2nd or 3rd century BC. Rich in culture and history, Salamanca’s gorgeously preserved Old City is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Bustling Plaza Mayor
At the heart of the Golden City is one of Spain’s most beautiful and celebrated plazas: the Plaza Mayor. Originally built between 1729-1755 as a bullfighting ring, the plaza is now a bustling center of activity and popular gathering area for locals and tourists alike. Admire its traditional Spanish Baroque style, elegant balustrades, arches and richly decorated façades and medallions -- along with its dizzying array of cafés, restaurants, jewelry stores, specialty boutiques and even ice cream parlors. Many of the medallions represent historical and religious figures, including former Spanish rulers, writers and saints: Cervantes, Charles I, Alfonso XI, Ferdinand VI, Cervantes and St. Theresa. The Town Hall is located here as well.
Shops and boutiques not only line the interior of the Plaza Mayor but spill out onto nearby streets such as the Calle de Toro. Restaurants and cafés are kept busy here too, particularly during lunchtime as this is the biggest meal of the day for Salamancans and when most shops and businesses close for a break time. One of the local specialties is Iberian ham -- a cured pork leg which is a bit richer than those consumed elsewhere.