How to visit the Cathedral of Salamanca, the great jewel of the city

Among all the wonders that must be seen in Salamanca we must highlight the Cathedral, which are actually two completely independent cathedrals, so the wonder is double. And each has its own charm.

On the one hand we have the Cathedral of Santa María, known as the Old Cathedral and which began to be built in the 12th century in Romanesque style, and on the other the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin, known as the New Cathedral and which began to be built in the 16th century in late gothic style.

Here we are going to tell you how to visit the Cathedral of Salamanca and enjoy both its exterior and its interior.

Visit the New Cathedral of Salamanca

The New Cathedral of Salamanca is the second largest cathedral in Spain, behind that of Seville. It was built when the Old City became too small due to the growth of the city and in it we can enjoy the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles after being consecrated in 1733.

The exterior of the New Cathedral

Salamanca - New CathedralSurely you have heard of the astronaut on the façade of the Cathedral of Salamanca. He is possibly the most famous character that you can find in his Puerta de Ramos to which you will direct your gaze to ask yourself how it is possible that in an 18th century cathedral there is an astronaut.

It is not that they were ahead of their time and they have their explanation. When this door was restored in 1992 this contemporary figure was added as is the tradition when a restoration is carried out. Less known is the dragon that eats ice cream and that you can also find.

From the exterior of the New Cathedral of Salamanca there are also many other elements to highlight, such as its main façade, which is not that of the astronaut, and of which we must highlight its impressive reliefs. Its great tower with 110 meters of height also deserves mention.

The interior of the New Cathedral

After admiring the facades and having been playing to find the anachronistic figures of the Puerta de Ramos, you can go inside and discover one of the most spectacular places in Salamanca and possibly in Spain.

Walking through its 3 naves will take you to enjoy the immensity of the building, its chapels, its slender columns and the impressive Gothic vault to which you should direct your gaze. The choir is another of the great works of art that you can admire in the Cathedral of Salamanca, the work of Joaquín de Churriguera and that will surprise you.

Inside the New Cathedral of Salamanca you can also enjoy numerous chapels, each one of them with great charm. Among them is, of course, the Main Chapel, of which we must point out that it does not have an altarpiece, unlike other Spanish cathedrals.

Visit the Old Cathedral of Salamanca

Attached to the New Cathedral is what was the first Cathedral of Salamanca, built in Romanesque style although its vaults are transitional to Gothic. The Old Cathedral has a more sober style on the outside and less majesty on the inside than the New Cathedral but it is still a must-see in itself and a true wonder.

The exterior of the Old Cathedral

From the outside of the Old Cathedral we must highlight the Torre del Gallo, the dome of the cathedral, with Islamic and Byzantine influences and one of the symbols of the cathedral complex. It is called that because the weathervane on its top is crowned by a rooster.

The main façade of the Old Cathedral of Salamanca seems to be cut in half and it is nothing like the original cover that was built. In the first place, the original was covered by another in the 18th century and this in turn was hidden by the stone reinforcement that was created to prevent the bell tower from falling after the Lisbon earthquake of 1755, the tower that was go to the left of the cover.

To the right is the Mocha Tower, the other tower that flanked the portal and is unfinished.

The interior of the Old Cathedral

After going inside we see a much smaller temple than its neighboring cathedral but its Main Chapel has just the element that is missing in the New Cathedral, the Altarpiece. And it is not just any altarpiece, it is one of the greatest works of art that can be found in a Spanish cathedral, the work of the Delli brothers and made up of 53 panels that show various episodes from the life of the Virgin.

In the Old Cathedral we also find different chapels, among which we must highlight the Chapel of San Martín for its Gothic mural paintings and the tombs of several Salamancan bishops.

Another element to highlight in the Old Cathedral of Salamanca is the Cloister, which is not the original as it was destroyed in the 1755 earthquake and had to be rebuilt. Around it are several chapels such as Santa Bárbara, notable for its altarpiece.

As a curiosity, in this chapel the students of the University of Salamanca took their exams to obtain their doctorate but they spent the night before preparing it. That’s where the saying “being in chapel” comes from.

Lastly, the Cathedral Museum and its paintings and sculptures from the 13th to 20th centuries will be the last place you visit in the Old Cathedral, located in the chapter rooms of the cloister, which are also a real gem like the Chapel of Santa Catalina or the Chapel of Saint Bartholomew.

You can find more information on the official page of the Cathedral of Salamanca.

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