Salamanca through literature, an eternal inspiration

Sara Rodriguez Romo | Live the World

November 23, 2022

Salamanca, the famous Spanish "city of students", was both the home of one of the main four Universities in Europe and of course, one of the most beautiful cities in Spain. Therefore, during the centuries, it has attracted many great personalities: politicians, theologists, lawyers… and writers. Really good ones! As you can imagine, they have indeed written enough about Salamanca in many of their stories. * *

Cervantes' literature about Salamanca's secret cave 

The most famous writer of them all is undoubtedly Miguel Cervantes, the author of “Don Quixote”. His student card at the University of Salamanca was found (and right away lost) a century ago. He wrote an entremés, a brief piece of literature, about a secret cave in Salamanca.

The story of Calixto and Melibea

Nevertheless, one of the most famous stories about Salamanca, is “La Celestina”, by Fernando Rojas. There is a film about it as well, in which Penélope Cruz is starring. The story takes place in a little garden, that is nowadays named after its two protagonists: Calixto and Melibea

The tale goes as follows: Calixto falls in love with Melibea and wants to have her no matter what. He hires the matchmaker Celestina (which by the way has become the noun to name people who set up a couple), and he starts visiting her. Melibea’s parents want her to marry someone rich, and of course, that's not Calixto. So, the couple is forced to see each other secretly in the garden. Many people end up knowing about the secret, and they want to take advantage of their affair. In the end, there is a fight and the poor Calixto dies, when he falls from the city wall. The tour guides nowadays, still show where he supposedly fell.  

Picture © Credits; Sara Rodríguez Romo

El Lazarillo de Tormes

Another classic book in Spanish literature is “El Lazarillo de Tormes”. Tormes is a river that runs around Salamanca. The two protagonists are a blind man and his guide, a naughty rascal. Like in the previous book, "Lazarillo", the name of the protagonist, has become the way to address the blind peoples' guides.  The blind man teaches him how to survive in life, and one of the most famous scenes of the book takes place by the old Roman bridge. At the very entrance, the visitor can still see a bull made of stone, proudly standing there since Celtic times (500 b.C. approx.). In the story, the blind man assures the boy that if he approaches his ear next to the heart of the stone bull, he will be able to listen to it beating. Lázaro, naive as he was, does so and the blind man hits him, while asking him "how on earth could a stone animal own a heart".

These are only three "chef d’ouvre" of the Spanish literature, but there are many more writers that felt compelled to write about Salamanca: Lope de Vega, Calderón, Martín Gaite, and also some international ones, such as Victor Hugo or Walter Scott, are some of the most important ones. It is a city that inspires its visitors. As Cervantes said, 

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