Take a trip to Salamanca is visiting a beautiful city with a very well-kept old town. One of the places that most attract our attention in this city is undoubtedly the Plaza Mayor of Salamanca, the authentic center of its social life for years. It is an old square, built in the XNUMXth century in a baroque style that surprises with its great harmony.
This plaza has a great history and we are also facing an authentic work of art that surprises because its style is very similar to that of Madrid. We are going to see how this beautiful square that today is a symbol of Salamanca came about and what we can know about it before visiting it.
Table of Contents
History of the Plaza Mayor
In the location where this Plaza Mayor is located with its architecture there was already an old square that was much larger in extension, spanning the market area and much more. This was the center of the city, the place where markets, events and festivities took place, so it was its nerve center. It was said that this was the largest square in Christendom. Already in the eighteenth century the idea arose that the square should be given a greater presence, as was done in other cities, so the architect Alberto de Churriguera was hired to build the square. When this famous Baroque architect died, Andrés García de Quiñones finished his work.
This square has some sides that are called pavilions. The first to be built was the Royal pavilion, the one on the left when facing away from the clock. Later, the one in front of the town hall called the San Martín pavilion was built. The works at this time were paralyzed for fifteen years due to problems with the inhabitants and owners of houses and businesses affected by the works, which were finally resolved. Finally, the pavilions of the Consistorial were built, which is where the town hall is located and that of Petrineros, the one on the right.
Apparently this square improved the design of the one in Madrid, because it was used franca stone from Villamayor with a characteristic golden tone that gives it that visual harmony, but also because it was totally closed and the one in Madrid was not at that time. Although today we see his central area on gray pavement was not always like this. This final pavement was laid in the fifties but until then there was a central garden with trees, benches and a bandstand in the middle, with a cobbled street around it.
Curiosities of the Plaza Mayor of Salamanca
Although we can think that this square has a regular quadrilateral plan, the truth is that none of the pavilions measures the same as the others, so it is irregular, although they are all around eighty meters. The square has 88 semicircular arches, a figure that we can find inscribed under one of the arches in the San Martín pavilion. In addition, there are 477 balconies open to the square.
We can see that arches of the square alternate with medallions in which we can see illustrious characters, some very recognizable such as the bust of Cervantes. Although the initial idea was not achieved, it consisted of putting the busts of the kings in the Royal pavilion, in the San Martín pavilion of soldiers and conquerors and in the other two those of illustrious figures of the arts, faith and the letters. In any case, it is interesting to be able to see the busts that make up the square and to recognize illustrious characters.
Another curiosity tells us that there are service tunnels that ran through the square to improve communication between premises. Nowadays they are bricked up but in some services in the lower part you can see the old arches. On the other hand, in the town hall area there are windows that are always closed. It is that behind them there are no rooms, since they were made so as not to break with the harmony of the construction.
What to do in the Plaza Mayor
This square is a very touristy place nowadays, so we can find in it a large number of bars in which to enjoy a snack while admiring the dimensions of the square. In the area of the arcades we also find some shops that have typical products, so you should not miss the details as we can find authentic delicacies. On the other hand, we must not miss the Café Novelty, which is the oldest, opened in 1905. This café is already a historic place with a beautiful Art Nouveau decoration that transports us back in time and in which we can have everything from a good breakfast to delicious ice creams.