The two cathedrals of Salamanca are perhaps the main reason tourists visit the town and so we braced ourselves for crowds of people. You enter the complex – the two cathedral are joined – through the New Cathedral of Salamanca
The New Cathedral
The ’new’ cathedral is a 16th century building in Gothic style, and its proper name is the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.1 Ferdinand II of Aragon (who was also Ferdinand V of Castile) commissioned the building and work started in 1513, taking two centuries to complete. It is one of the largest cathedrals in Spain and the bell tower of 92 metres is one of the tallest.
There was a need for a new cathedral because of the growth of the city and the importance and expansion of the University. The earthquake of 1755 caused considerable damage to the building but there is no sign of any damage today.
You can see the Cathedrals from odd corners of the town; this is near San Esteban.
The outside of the New Cathedral
The West Door, in a narrow street, faces the Bishop’s Palace and is also known as the Portada de Ramos. It is an astounding sight and you could write a book about the carvings on the walls and doors.
During restoration work at the cathedral in 1922 an interesting detail was added to the west door – an astronaut! Sculptors have always added something personal and Jeronimo Garcia had permission to add this figure and one or two others which I didn’t find. And of course there are the usual fantastical animals, leaves and flowers.
The North Door is the main entrance today and overlooks the Plaza de Anaya, with the Palace of Anaya opposite.
The South Door overlooks the Plaza de los Leones.
Inside the new cathedral
Walk into the new cathedral and you are speechless, or rather it is hard to find something sensible to say.
The Choir dates from the 18th century and involved Joaquín Benito and Alberto de Churriguera, amongst other artists.
The transept with the choir on the left, in the middle of the nave.
The Chapels line both sides of the cathedral and they are all elaborate.
The New Cathedral of Salamanca is monumental and it makes demands on you. I felt I needed to straighten up and ‘do better’ – it is a serious building and undertaking.
- The Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary: Joaquín Benito and Alberto de Churriguera. ↩︎