Salamanca, Spain

Jesse Clarke

Salamanca, in northwestern Spain, is the capital of the Castile and León region. Ruled successively by the Celts, Romans, Muslims and Spanish. This ancient university town north-west of Madrid was first conquered by the Carthaginians in the 3rd century B.C. It then became a Roman settlement before being ruled by the Moors until the 11th century.

Universidad of Salamanca

The university, one of the oldest in Europe, reached its high point during Salamanca's golden age. Founded in 1218 by King Alfonso IX, Salamanca University is the oldest institution of higher learning in Spain. It is a medium sized university with over thirty thousand students. It is the second most popular university in the country for students wanting to study outside of their home districts. It became the first Spanish university to offer language courses to foreign students when it inaugurated its Spanish language program in 1929.


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Astronaut Mystery on the Cathedral

This astronaut sculpture is on the wall of the Salamanca Cathedral. The mystery behind it is, while some commentators have suggested that the astronaut has been added using image manipulation software, other observers have come up with more outlandish explanations, including time travel, alien visitations in ancient times and amazingly precise predictions of the future by the artists who decorated the original buildings. Different observers have drawn the most obvious conclusion, which is that the astronaut carving was added to the building in much more recent times.

The astronaut, along with other contemporary symbols was added in 1992 during restoration work on the "new" cathedral. The person responsible for the restoration, Jeronimo Garcia, reportedly chose an astronaut as a fitting symbol of the twentieth century.