Frogs, astronauts, professors and voyages: Interesting facts about Salamanca
It’s been a few days since we last spoke about Salamanca in our blog but we haven’t forgotten about this city built of legends and buildings made of yellow stone. Today, we want to share some interesting facts about Salamanca with you.
Europe’s First University- The University of Salamanca founded in 1218 is the oldest university in Spain. Alfonso X bestowed the official title of “university” on the hallowed halls an act later ratified by the Pope Alexander IV, effectivley making it the first official university in Europe.
The first woman professor- Another first for the University of Salamanca was the admittance of a woman student, Beatriz Galindo, known as “la Latina” for her complete domination of the language. Not long after, in 1508, it became the first university in the world to allow a woman teacher, Lucía de Medrano who taught classic languages.
The University of Salamanca Frog- Did you know the most famous personality at the University of Salamanca is not a teacher or student but a frog. Of course it’s not a real frog only a sculpture on the façade. According to legend if you manage to find the frog you’ll be blessed with good luck and pass your exams. However, historians have another idea; the frog sitting atop a skull was a warning for students not to give into lust therefore avoiding being struck down with a nasty case of syphilis, which was running rampant in Salamanca during the 16th century.
An astronaut on the Salamanca Cathedral- Another of the city’s famous sculptures is the astronaut floating amongst the ornamental vegetation found next to the doors of Salamanca’s New Cathedral (it can’t really be called new as it was finished in 1733). It is not the work of visionary sculpture from the past but rather a more modern addition. In 1992 during the last restoration the astronaut was added, keeping with the tradition of incorporating contemporary elements into the restorations so as to date the work.
An Ice-cream eating Demon- Another interesting statue which can be found on the cathedral is that of an ice-cream eating demon, also added during the last restoration project. He looks very happy with his three scoop ice-crea . Showing tourists how to beat the heat in summer, maybe?
The beginning of Christopher Columbus’ journey- The famous Genoese navigator Christopher Columbus stayed in the Convento de San Esteban before presenting his idea of a trip to the Indias to the Catholic Monarchs. It was the Convent’s prior, Diego de Deza, who urged the Monarchs to sponsor the voyage which resulted in the discovery of America.
Interesting facts about the Plaza Mayor-I Everybody who has been to Salamanca crosses the Plaza Mayor several times during their stay. Construction finished in 1755 and even though it may not look it none of the sides are of equal length, the longest measures 83m and the shortest 76. Another interesting fact about the plaza are the decorative medallions, in total there are 57 carve medallions dedicated to various kings, queens and historic characters and there are 32 uncarved. Felipe V appears no less than three times.
Victor academic symbol- On the walls of various university buildings and palaces in Salamanca, Anaya Palace for example, these red symbols can be seen. The Victor symbol an anagram derived from the Roman Chi Ro was used by various Spanish Universities since the 14th century as a sign of recognition to the graduating students. After the Spanish Civil War, Franco adopted the Victor symbol as his own emblem.