Meet me at the Plaza Mayor!

The Plaza Mayor, illuminated at night. Picture by Nick Welch

Without a doubt, one of the most iconic features of Salamanca is its Plaza Mayor, or main square.  Built between 1729 and 1755 in the Baroque style, it was originally used as a center for bullfights.  There are no more bullfights there today (those were stopped in the mid-19th century), but the Plaza is still a place where residents and visitors alike gather all the time.  Restaurants, ice cream shops and jewelry stores line the perimeter, and a beautifully ornate clock tower adorns the north face, just above Salamanca’s City Hall (helpful tip: the Oficina de Turismo is located in the plaza as well, in case you find yourself in need of another city map ;)).

The Plaza is considered by many to be the most beautiful in all of Spain.  The Churriguera brothers designed its intricate walls out of sandstone– helping give Salamanca the nickname of La Ciudad Dorada– and their style heavily influenced  the architecture in Latin America in the following decades.

Whether you are enjoying a cup of coffee in a café, checking out a traveling art exhibit, or just relaxing with friends, the Plaza is an ideal place to go in your free time, especially if you like to people-watch!   Many people in Spain come out of their homes in the evening to socialize before dinner.  It’s a great example of the difference in the change of pace you will experience abroad.  After all, how often do you get to relax like that in your home town?

Don’t be afraid to dive in and become a part of it yourself: it’s easy!  Simply choose a spot on the square, grab a seat, and watch the world go by.  You’ll be surprised at how fast Salamanca starts to feel like home.

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