Walking Tour of Salamanca: A Small City Rich with History 

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The outside facade of the University of Salamanca

The construction of the University of Salamanca began in 1411 by order of Pope Benedicto XIII, The Moon Pope. It is the oldest university of Spain, and one of the most representative examples of the Spanish plateresque style. It was completed in 1218 under the direction of Alfonso IX, but it was not made an actual university until Alfonso X, The Wise One, assigned faculty to it in 1254.

Pope Alexander IV called the University of Salamanca "one of the four torches of the world." The 40,000-book library on the top floor can symbolize Salamanca's immortality, uniting it to the world of literature and art. Having passed through the library include important personalities such as Fray Luis of Leon, Nebrija, Francisco Vitoria, Cervantes, Mendez Valdez, Saint Juan of the Cross, Miguel of Unamuno, Torrente Ballester and many others.

The most important exterior aspect of the university is the facade seen above. It faces the "Patio de Escuelas," which has a statue of fray Luis de Leon. He was a poet and professor of Theology at the University. The outside of the university was constructed in what is known in Spanish as "gotico plateresco." This means that it is a gothic architectural style with an abundance of detail.

The facade has three levels. (1) The bottom has a large medallion with the Catholic King and Queen, Ferdinand and Isabella. With their images is a Greek inscription that reads "The Kings to the University, and This One to Them. They are considered the protectors of the university. (2) In the center, are the imperial shield of Charles V, and in its superior the figure of the Pope with two cardinals. The most noted attribute of the middle level is the frog on the right-hand column. (3) The third level has a figure of Benedicto XIII in the center.

Look close to see the frog for good luck! Legend says that if you can find the frog, you will have good luck. In reality, the frog is a symbol of sin. It is characterized by the plateresque carving because it seems to get larger as it gets higher, and it looks real. Look closely on the column, on the left side of the bottom ledge, on top of the skull.


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