The ancient city of Salamanca, famous for its university founded by Alfonso IX in the early 1200s, is well preserved, with turreted palaces, faded convents, Romanesque churches, and colleges that have attracted scholars from all over Europe. Nearly all the attractions are within walking distance of the Plaza Mayor. In its day, Salamanca was ranked with Oxford, Paris, and Bologna as one of “the four leading lights of the medieval world.” The intellectual life continues to this day, and a large invasion of American students brings added life to the town in summer. Still a youthful, spirited place because of the venerable Salamanca University, the city has been named a “World Heritage City” by UNESCO, one of six such cities in Spain.

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