The Salamanca Plaza Mayor
Built in 1729 and completed in 1755, Salamanca’s Plaza Mayor is widely considered one of the most beautiful plazas in Spain. Throughout it’s history, the Plaza Mayor has served as a market, and a bull fighting arena. City hall now resides here as well as a variety of restaurants and stores.
According to historical photos displayed in the Museo de Salamanca, the square inside the Plaza Mayor of Salamanca used to have trees and at one point cars regularly drove through this square. Now the Salamanca Plaza Mayor is blocked off and restricted only to pedestrian traffic and street vendors. You hardly see cars drive through, unless they are patrol cars.
Under the clock tower of the Salamanca, “Debajo el reloj,” is considered the number one meet up spot of Salamanca.
The plaza maor in Salamanca is one of only two enclosed plazas in Spain, the other would be Madrid’s Plaza Mayor. There are faces of prominent people in Spanish history carved into the sandstone above the Plaza Mayor’s 88 arches. The kings of Spain are represented on the eastern wall, poets and novelists on the west and Spanish conquistadores on the south. Contrary to how it appears when you’re standing in the center, the Plaza Mayor is not a perfect square; each side of the plaza has a different amount of arches than the others.
When in the Plaza Mayor, its a feeling of serenity unlike anywhere else in the world. You could spend hours here doing nothing and it’d still be a worthwhile day. Day and night, we would come here and have a seat on a bench (if available) and just chill. Several people will just lay out on the concrete floor to read, eat ice cream, study or chat. There’d be occasions when we would do homework, Skype with family (oh yeah, there’s free WiFi in the plaza), read, write, whatever. I never got sick of it. There’s nothing quite like being surrounded by these four walls.
The Salamanca Plaza Mayor is one of the best places to people watch. During summer nights you can catch a variety of entertainment. We’ve seen break dancers, fire throwers, Flamenco performances and Tuna bands. We found a YouTube video online from Rick Steves’ with a Salamanca preview of life here. I just want to say that the Tuna band we see in the playing in the Plaza Mayor now is absolutely wonderful. Entertaining, funny and charming.
If you’re looking for a place to eat in Salamanca. Food critic Davidsbeenhere tells you what restaurants to eat at in the Plaza Mayor.
When you go to Salamanca, make it your excursion goal to see the night lights come on in the Plaza Mayor. It happens right around sun down and a loud echo of gasps flow across the plaza.