Today we travel across the plains of Old Castille to the university city of Salamanca with its charming main square and beautiful old buildings of golden-coloured stone. Salamanca is a castilian city in central Spain, the capital of the province of Salamanca in the autonomous community of Castile-Leon. The city lies on a plateau by the Tormes river, which is crossed by a bridge 500 ft long built on 26 arches, fifteen of which are of Roman origin, while the remainder date from the 16th century. It is probably best known for having the oldest university in Spain and one of the oldest in Europe.
In Salamanca, the inhabitants are said to speak the "purest" Spanish of Spain, Castilian. For this reason Salamanca is popular with people all over the world who want to learn Spanish.
The House of Shells was constructed during the 15th century. The architecture includes Gothic, Moorish and Italian styles. In total, there are approximately 400 shells on the exterior of the building. Some say that the shells are either a symbol of love or just a decorative addition to the outside of the building. But others believe that they are the symbol of the Order of Saint James. Doctor Rodrigo Arias was the founder of the building and the chancellor of the order.
The following day we took a coach to Cáceres stopping on the way to visit Alberca, a traditional mountain village. This village with its half-timbered houses & porticoed main square, was so remote & isolated that until recently it had no electricity. On 15th (Diagosto) and 16th (Tornafesta) August, the town gives itself over to the Feast of the Assumption, with festivities that mix pagan and religious traditions, and the local women resplendent in their jewel-laden Vistas dress. Alberca is now protected as a Spanish National Monument.
We left Alberca and continued south, crossing the Tagus river until we arrived at Cáceres in the western Spanish province of Extreadura. This lovely old town, of Roman origin, later became a Moorish stronghold and was incorporated into the Christian Kingdom of Leon in 1227. The town is best known for its magnificent town houses which were the homes of noble families during the 15th & 16th centurries, of which the Carvajal palace is outstanding. The well preserved medieval city centre has been declared a World Heritage site and has been protected as a National Monument since 1930.