City Discovery: Salamanca and Spain’s Oldest University

Salamanca is home to the University of Salamanca, founded in 1218, the oldest university in Spain and one of the oldest in Europe. The University is full of legends, including the legend of the Lucky Frog. If you find the frog, which is carved onto the façade of the University of Salamanca, you will have good luck throughout your studies!

Salamanca is the only Spanish provincial capital city with two active cathedrals—the New Cathedral, built between the 16th and 18th centuries, and the Old Cathedral, built between the 12th and 14th centuries.

Don’t miss these Discovery activities in Salamanca



Intercultural experiences highlight exposure with the local culture, promoting a multilateral exchange of ideas, language and opinions.

Throughout the year, ISA Salamanca staff organize lectures based on the unique events taking place in the city. For example, in April, a lecture on ‘Semana Santa’ (Easter week) is given, in which the ISA Salamanca Staff explain to the students what ‘Semana Santa’ is all about: the history, its elements, the processions taking place by date and time, etc. At the conclusion of the lecture the staff invite students to taste the typical sweets of this period of time, for example, the ‘torrijas’. Another lecture commonly shared with students covers the Salamanca feast ‘Lunes de Aguas’ a curious medieval tradition which is celebrated on the Monday after Easter Sunday.

The ISA Salamanca Staff organize different activities related to Spanish gastronomy for students. From cooking classes where they will learn to cook typical Spanish dishes; a visit to a traditional bakery of Salamanca, where they will learn how to make sweet and sour pastries; a visit to the ‘Hacienda Zorita’ (and organic farm) where they will learn, and taste, the typical wine, cheese, and olive oil of the area; or a tapas tour in which they will have a blind tasting of different tapas of different regions of Spain, with its explanation about the history and cultural importance.



ISA excursions and cultural activities highlight historical parts of the local culture to help students better understand their new environment.

ISA students will take guided tours to different historically important monuments. For example, the students will visit the Cathedrals (Salamanca is the only Spanish provincial city with two active cathedrals) from above, so in addition to visiting the beautiful Cathedrals of Salamanca, they will also be able to enjoy the wonderful views of the city. Students will also have the opportunity to visit the historic building of the University, which is the oldest university in Spain (founded in 1218) and one of the oldest in Europe, and they will learn all the history and legends of which surround it, and many more.

Dramatized tours bring the city to life. During a visit to the Museum of Commerce, ISA students will see the history of Salamanca play out before their eyes. Students will learn about the economic, commercial and trade activity of Salamanca. In another dramatized tour, students will learn about the literary Salamanca, the city’s authors and their works; many which take place in Salamanca.



Sociopolitical discovery highlights social and political activities or experiences.

ISA provides students with a tour to the Convent of San Esteban, where Christopher Columbus lived for a period of time since he wanted the help and advice of the geographers of the University, some of them Dominican monks. Students will learn about the history of this convent, but also the relation that this convent, and the Dominican monks, had with the discovery of America. Also important to note is the important role these monks played in defending the human rights of Native Americas. Their “Escuela de Salamanca” laid the groundwork for what we now know as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

ISA students will have the opportunity to attend one of the oldest campuses in the world, the University of Salamanca. The city of Salamanca is actually the campus itself, the students will have the privilege of walking through the streets of the old town of Salamanca and studying in palaces of the 16th century, in churches, etc. Students are encouraged to pick up La Gaceta: Regional de Salamanca and stay informed on local news and current events while taking in this city of learning.



Professional experiences provide exposure to professional development opportunities during an ISA program.

Semester/Year students can participate in the Volunteer Teaching Certificate Program. This program allows students to volunteer at a public bilingual school in Salamanca as native English speakers. Upon program completion, students receive a certificate from the Spanish Ministry of Education. Semester/Year/Summer students can also participate by teaching classes in an English Academy. This is great for summer students or for students that want to volunteer teaching classes but don’t want to compromise many hours of their day to it. They receive a certificate from the school, as well.

ISA students will have the opportunity to volunteer in different organizations that covering a wide range of different areas. Volunteering take usually two or three hours per week, depending on the level of compromise and time the student has. ISA Salamanca can also offer students a wide range of Internships, in different companies and institutions.



Environmental experiences expose students to different environmental aspects of the host country.

ISA Salamanca works closely with two organizations: the Green Office of the University of Salamanca and the ZOES Association. Both organize different activities in which ISA students can get involved with environmental initiatives around the city.

Salamanca is surrounded by important Natural Parks. ISA staff take students to different hiking places such as Batuecas, Peña de Francia, Mogarraz, La Alberca, etc. There, students can learn about the fauna and flora of the place, while exercising and enjoying nature.


Discover these things and more during a study abroad program in Salamanca. 

Author: International Studies Abroad (ISA)

Since 1987, International Studies Abroad (ISA) has provided college students in the United States and Canada the opportunity to explore the world. ISA offers a wide variety of study abroad programs at accredited schools and universities in 73 program locations throughout the world.

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