Old Cathedral, Salamanca

Old CathedralOld Cathedral
Immediately adjoining the south side of the New Cathedral is the Romanesque Old Cathedral of Santa María de la Sede, which is entered from the south aisle of the New Cathedral. It is difficult to get a general view of both cathedrals; the best view of the exterior of the Old Cathedral, however, is from the Patio Chico, which is reached from a doorway in the south aisle of the New Cathedral. The Old Cathedral, one of the most splendid buildings of its period in Spain, was begun about 1100 and was probably completed before 1200. From the Patio Chico there is a view of the chancel, with a magnificent tower-like dome over the crossing, known as the Torre del Gallo from the figure of a cock which surmounts it.

Old Cathedral Highlights

Old Cathedral - Interior

In the principal apse is a monumental retablo with 53 scenes from the life of Christ and the life of the Virgin. Like the large fresco of the Last Judgment in the vaulting of the apse, it was the work of Nicol Ás Florentino (1445 onwards). In the center of the retablo is a 12th century statue of the Virgen de la Vega, plated with bronze and decked with precious stones. In the Capilla de San Martín, in the tower, are wall paintings, which, like those in the aisles, show French influence.

Old Cathedral - Cloister

The 12th century Cloister was badly damaged in the 1755 earthquake and rebuilt from 1785 onwards, so that little Romanesque work is left. Among Romanesque features that survive are the Mudéjar-style Capilla de Talavera, with sculpture by Alonso Berruguete and the tomb of the founder (owner of the Casa de las Conchas), and the 14th century Capilla de Santa Bárbara, in which candidates for the doctorate spent the night before their final examination and appeared before their examiners.

The Diocesan Museum

The Diocesan Museum, in the former chapterhouse, which contains fine works by Fernando Gallego ("Virgin with the Rose" triptych, "Coronation of the Virgin"), a triptych by Juan de Flandes, a 13th century ivory figure of the Virgin and a Renaissance organ from the University.

Around the Old Cathedral

Puente Romano

Southwest of the Old Cathedral, on the banks of the Río Tormes, lies the Plaza del Puente, from which the old Roman bridge spans the river. Of the bridge's 27 arches, 15 at the near end, are still Roman.

Church of Santiago

Near the Roman bridge is the plain Romanesque church of Santiago, a modern reproduction (1980) of the original church.

Convento de San Esteban

A little way upstream from Puente Romano is the Puente Nuevo (New Bridge), from the southwestern end of which radiate the roads to Ávila, Plasencia and Ciudad Rodrigo. From the near end of the bridge the Avenida de los Reyes leads to the Dominican monastery of San Esteban (on right, on higher ground), with a church built between 1524 and 1610, its facade covered with a riot of Plateresque decoration. It has a gilded high altar of 1693 by José de Churriguera, one of the sculptor's greatest works, and three side altars by pupils of his. To the left of the high altar is the tomb of the Duke of Alba, governor of the Spanish Netherlands. On the west wall, above the raised choir, can be seen a large fresco by Antonio Palomino, "The Triumph of the Church" (1705).

Convento de San Esteban - Cloister

Adjoining the church is the two-story Cloister, with very fine medallions, figural ornament and a staircase by Gil de Hontañón.

Convento de las Dueñas

Just north of San Esteban, on the far side of the Avenida de los Reyes, is the Convento de las Dueñas, with a Plateresque facade of 1533.
Address: Plaza del Concilo de Trento, Spain

Convento de las Dueñas - Cloister

Visitors can see the beautiful two-story Renaissance cloister, with capitals depicting fabulous beasts and human figures, possibly based on Dante's "Divine Comedy".

Palacio de la Salina

From the Convento de las Dueñas, Calle Juan de la Fuente goes up past the Plaza de Colón to join Calle San Pablo, along which, to the right, is the Plaza Mayor. In this street, on the left, is the Palacio de la Salina, built in 1516 for Archbishop Fonseca. The facade has four tall round-headed arches with sculptured medallions, behind which is a beautiful patio.

Torre del Clavero

At the far end of the side street opposite the Palacio de la Salina can be seen the massive 15th century Torre del Clavero, with eight corner turrets, all that is left of a fortress-like mansion built by Francisco de Sotomayor.

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