For more than 250 years the Plaza Mayor in Salamanca has been the heart of Salamancan life. If you have visited the city you will have undoubtedly passed through it, or if not, you certainly will when you come.
Built in two phases, the first by Alberto de Churriguera between 1729 and 1735, and the second under the instruction of Manuel de Larra Churriguera, nephew of the former, between 1750 and 1755, the Plaza Mayor in Salamanca is undeniably the most beautiful and harmonious square in the whole of Spain.
Alberto de Churriguera tried to build a perfect square, but due to irregularities in the ground and the church of San Martín which is situated adjacent to the walls of the Plaza Mayor, he had to change his plans, instead creating an irregular quadrilateral shape by just a few metres: the Royal side (on the east) measures 80.6m, the “Petrineros” side (on the west) is 81.6m, the Town Hall (on the north) is 82.6m and the San Martín side (on the south) is 75.6m.
The square covers 4,408m² and is surrounded by 88 arches. It has 89 commemorative medallions dedicated to distinguished people, 247 balconies, 96 obelisks, and is 18m high.
In 1935 it was declared a National Monument for being the “most decorative, proportionate and harmonious square of its time”. In 1973 it was considered a “Historical-Artistic Monument”, and in 1988, together with the “University City” as it is historically known, it was a core part in the acknowledgement of the city by UNESCO as a World Heritage City, as well as being labelled as a baroque monument of excellence.
Together with the famous wall of the University, the Plaza Mayor is the emblem of the city. Thousands of people walk through it on a daily basis to go to work or classes. Many people enjoy a coffee or a couple of beers in the square every day, sitting in one of its numerous terraces. And when the day is over and the Salamancan night begins, you can see lots of young people under the arch of the Town Hall, where the famous clock is located, waiting for friends before they head to a party.
Don't forget this phrase - it will be very useful when you study Spanish here with us:
“Shall we meet under the clock?”