Old City of Salamanca (1988)

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This ancient university town north-west of Madrid was first conquered by the Carthaginians in the 3rd century B.C. It then became a Roman settlement before being ruled by the Moors until the 11th century. The university, one of the oldest in Europe, reached its high point during Salamanca's golden age. The city's historic centre has important Romanesque, Gothic, Moorish, Renaissance and Baroque monuments. The Plaza Mayor, with its galleries and arcades, is particularly impressive. 

Spain 2001. Panoramic iew of Salamanca by night. Spain 2002. Salamanca. The stamp is a close-up of the cathedral. Cut-out of a souvenir sheet issued for the international exhibition for youth philately.

Tunisia 1995. General Hannibal who captured Salamanca, Spain.

Salamanca is a Castilian city in central Spain, the capital of the Province of Salamanca in the autonomous community of Castile-Leon. 

The city was founded in the pre-Roman period by Vacceos, an indigenous tribe, as one of a pair of forts to defend their territory near the Duero river. 

In about 222 BC, the Carthaginian general Hannibal laid siege to the city. With the fall of the Carthaginians to the Romans, the city became an important commercial hub. 

Known as Salmantica in Roman times, it was a bishopric in the 7th century, was occupied by the Moors until 1085, and then was an important city in the Kingdom of León. 

  • Tunisia 1995. Hannibal. The stamp and sheet are engraved by Czeslaw Slania, see his signature in the selvedge bottom right. 
A central place in the city, the Plaza Mayor, surrounded by shaded arcades, is known as the living room of the Salmantinos (Salamancans). 

It was constructed by Andres Garcia de Quifiones at the beginning of the 18th century; it would hold 20,000 people, once to witness bullfights, today to attend a concert, and is one of the finest squares in Europe. 

  • Spain 2002. Close-up of the Plaza Mayor. 

Spain 2002. Close-up of the Plaza Mayor.

Spain 2002. Salamanca. Plaza Mayor. Stamp #1 of three. Spain 2002. Salamanca. Plaza Mayor. Stamp #2 of three. Spain 2002. Salamanca. Plaza Mayor. Stamp #3 of three.

Salamanca is considered to be one of the most spectacular Renaissance cities in Europe. Through the centuries the sandstone buildings have gained an exquisite golden glow that has given Salamanca the nickname La Ciudad Dorada, the golden city. 

Spain 1991. Salamanca. Casa de las Conchas.

Spain 2002. Souvenir sheet for EXFILNA 2002, with views of the Plaza Mayor in Salamanca.

The city lies on a plateau by the Tormes river, which is crossed by a bridge 500 ft long built on 26 arches, fifteen of which are of Roman origin, while the remainder date from the 16th century. 

Spain 1968. Panorama of Salamanca.

Among the city's numerous historical and architectural landmarks are the Romanesque old cathedral (begun c. 1140); the new cathedral (begun 1513; completed 1733); the Church of San Esteban, with an altar made (1693-1700) by José Benito Churriguera; and a 16th-century palace. 

The Dome of The old Romanesque cathedral that covers its crossing springs from a double arcade that is daringly pierced with windows, a distant reflection of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. 

  • Spain 1968. Panorama of Salamanca. The Roman Bridge spanning the Tormes River, and the Cathedral in the background. 

In 1218, Alfonso IX of Castile founded the first Christian university in Iberia here, which is now regaining some of the prestige it lost under Franco, Salamanca having been a bastion of his supporters. Under the patronage of the learned Alfonso X (1252-1282), its wealth and reputation greatly increased, and its schools of canon law and civil law attracted students even from the Universities of Paris and Bologna. At the height of the university, in the 16th century, one in five of Salamanca's residents was a student, and the city's fortunes depended on those of the university. 

Sources and links:

Other World Heritage Sites in Spain (on this site). Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Spain-section, for further information on the individual properties. 

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Revised 19 jul 2007  
Copyright © 1999 Heindorffhus 
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