Salamanca's radiant sandstone buildings, immense Plaza Mayor, and hilltop riverside perch make it one of the most majestic and beloved cities in Spain. Today, as it did centuries ago, the university imbues the city with an intellectual verve, a stimulating arts scene, and raging nightlife to match. You’ll see more foreign students here per capita than anywhere else in Spain.
If you approach from Madrid or Ávila, your first glimpse of Salamanca will be of the city rising on the northern banks of the wide and winding Tormes River. In the foreground is its sturdy, 15-arch Roman bridge; soaring above it is the combined bulk of the old and new cathedrals. Piercing the skyline to the right is the Renaissance monastery and church of San Esteban. Behind San Esteban and the cathedrals, and largely out of sight from the river, extends a stunning series of palaces, convents, and university buildings that culminates in the Plaza Mayor. Despite enduring considerable damage over the centuries, Salamanca remains one of Spain's greatest cities architecturally, a showpiece of the Spanish Renaissance.