Salamanca: A City for Students
The University of Salamanca is one of the oldest universities in Spain; and in Europe only Oxford, Cambridge, the University of Paris and the University of Bologna have it beat. Since 1218 this university has been educating young people from across the country as well as foreign students from around the world, converting Salamanca into a meeting point for thousands of university students year-round.
Because of this, Salamanca is considered a city for students, with traditions, interesting activities and plenty of things to do for fun, places to stay and subjects to study. Take a look at some of the reasons why Salamanca is a unique city recommended for these kinds of visits.
A college town cannot be called such until traditions have been established there to symbolize the university and its students. The University frog, which is a symbol falling somewhere on the scale between funny and artistic, is without a doubt, the most well known symbol at the University of Salamanca. It is a frog carved into stone on top of a skull which can be found on the University’s door. Tradition dictates that the first student in a group of friends looking for the frog who finds it will have a good academic year.
Another more cultural tradition is that of the “Vítores.” The tradition is to distribute symbols that combine the letters V.I. T.O and R in different ways around the city, as if it were graffiti. These letters are actually red anagrams which symbolize appreciation for the University’s privileges. Collecting all of them is a real challenge and has become a growing trend.
As with every city, Salamanca has crucial tourist areas that are absolutely essential for every visitor to see. As with other areas in the city, these places have also been taken over by students.
The Plaza Mayor stands out as an incomparable place in the city and a meeting point for absolutely all young people in Salamanca. Since it is a plaza that has been created naturally over centuries, it is not a perfect square, but it still takes up over 6,000 square meters. Having a drink or a bite to eat at one of the many bars or restaurants found beneath its characteristic arches is an activity that becomes habit for many students.
But if there is a place that stands out in Salamanca, and not only for students, it is the Cueva de Salamanca or the Cueva del Diablo. They are found on Caravjal hill and although access is sometimes closed, it is always an interesting place for tourists to visit. Legend has it that the Devil taught black magic there dressed as a sacristan to 7 students for 7 years and that the best student would stay at his side as his disciple. In theory, the Marquess of Villena would have been the chosen one, if he managed to escape from the cave and hide in the church of San Cebrián. Or at least that’s what legend tells us.