Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Origin of the University of Salamanca

The Public University of Salamanca is famous for its facade, but what is the history behind it? It started in 1130, which marks the year classes were first offered inside the Cathedral. The university was then officially founded in 1218 by King Alfonso IX. This makes the university of Salamanca the oldest in Spain. In 1254, the university was recognized by Pope Alexander IV as one of the four major universities in the world, with the universities of Oxford, Paris and Bologna. The building of "Escuelas Mayores" began in 1415.
In 1529, the Catholic Monarchs took advantage of this auspicious time to order the construction of the new facade that we know today. The most known thing of this facade is the frog represented over a skull. Legend says that in order to graduate, each new student must find the frog. If the student does not find it, it means bad luck for his studies.
Today, all the tourists who come to visit Salamanca look for the frog that has become a symbol of the city. This is evidenced by the large number of souvenir shops offering frog key chains, frog magnets etc. as keepsakes to remember Salamanca by.
In 1584, the number of university students in the University reached 6778. After that, the attendance had waned and in 1822, it only had 412 students. Throughout history, many famous people have passed through the halls of the university, among them Luis de Leon, Miguel de Unamuno, Miguel de Cervantes, Hernando Cortes, and Christopher Columbus.
According to the university website, it now has faculties of law, art, medicine and sciences.  Today more than 30,000 students pass through the university each year, participating in the 250 programs offered.
If you are currently in Salamanca, don’t forget to visit the university, a part of the rich history of Salamanca!

Claire, Intern at Tia Tula 

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