You’ll know when you’ve arrived at Salamanca’s central honey-trap, the Universidad de Salamanca, also known as the Universidad Civil, by the milling tour groups, all straining their necks to examine the magnificent facade. It’s the ultimate expression of the Plateresque style, covered with medallions, heraldic emblems and floral decorations, amid which lurks a hidden frog said to bring good luck and marriage within the year to anyone who spots it unaided. The centre of the facade is occupied by a portrait of Isabel and Fernando, surrounded by a Greek inscription commemorating their devotion to the university. There are several sections to visit, though the fee paid at the main entrance covers just the tour of the main building’s lecture rooms and library.
Aula Fray Luís de León and Library
The university’s old lecture rooms are arranged around a courtyard. The Aula Fray Luís de León preserves the rugged original benches and the pulpit where this celebrated professor lectured. In 1573, the Inquisition muscled its way into the room and arrested Fray Luís for alleged subversion of the faith; five years of torture and imprisonment followed, but upon his release he calmly resumed his lecture with the words, “As we were saying yesterday…”
An elegant Plateresque stairway leads to the upper storey, where you’ll find the old university library, stuffed with thousands of antiquated books on wooden shelves and huge globes of the world. There’s a faded magnificence here, which gives some idea of Renaissance Salamanca’s academic splendour.