University, Salamanca Universidad de Salamanca
From the Clerecía it is a short distance southeast along Calle Libreros to the once world-famed University of Salamanca (on the left). Among those who taught here were the humanist Fray Luis de León (1527-91), the mystic John of the Cross (Juan de la Cruz, 1542-91) and the philosopher Miguel de Unamuno (1864-1936), who also became Rector of the University. Cervantes was a student here. The Copernican system was recognized at Salamanca University at a time when this was still a grave heresy.
University - Main Front
The original building (1415-33) was relatively plain; then in 1534 it was given its present facade with its lavish profusion of Plateresque ornament - the unsurpassed masterpiece of that style in Spain. Above the two doorways are three registers of finely carved panels separated by pilasters. At first floor level, in the center of the facade, is a medallion with likenesses of the Catholic Monarchs; above this is the coat of arms of Charles V, flanked by the double-headed imperial eagle and the eagle of St John; and above this again is the Pope, surrounded by cardinals, with figures of Venus, Priam and Bacchus to the right and Hercules, Juno and Jupiter to the left. On the right-hand pilaster in the first register, above a skull, can be seen a frog, regarded by students as a bringer of good luck.
University - Ground Floor
The University is built around a large two-story courtyard, which is surrounded by lecture halls on the ground floor. Visitors are taken on a conducted tour, turning left from the entrance, passing through two smaller halls to the lecture hall in which Fray Luis de León taught, with a desk for the lecturer and rough wooden benches for the students. Beyond this is the Paraninfo or Great Hall, used for the granting of degrees and other ceremonial occasions, which was originally the lecture hall for canon law; in it hangs a Brussels tapestry with a portrait of Charles IV after a cartoon by Goya. After seeing other rooms visitors come to the Capilla de San Jerónimo, in the right-hand wing, which was formerly the Library. It was remodeled in marble in 1767; some of the ceiling paintings from this room are now to be seen in the Escuelas Menores. Here too can be seen the diploma conferring an honorary doctorate on St Theresa of Ávila. From here the tour continues by way of the Sacristy and the Rector's Room to the Music Room, which contains fine tapestries and two pictures by Juan de Flandes.
University - Upper Floor
The staircase leading to the upper floor (16 C.) is decorated with finely carved scenes of tournaments, Moriscos and hunting, and on the keystone are the arms of the University.
University - Library
A corridor with a fine artesonado ceiling leads to the Isabelline doorway of the Library, which was founded in 1254. The library hall, originally Gothic, was remodeled in 1749. From that period date the bookcases, which contain some 50,000 books and 3,500 manuscripts. The most valuable items (incunabula, manuscripts and miniatures) are kept in a separate room.
Map of Salamanca Attractions