The University of Salamanca
2018 marks the 800th anniversary of the University of Salamanca in Spain. Together with Oxford, Paris and Bologna, Salamanca is one of the oldest universities in Europe and the third oldest university in the world still in operation today
Theuniversity was founded in 1134 and given the Royal charter of foundation by King Alfonso IX in 1218. The formal title of University was granted by King Alfonso X in 1254 and recognised by Pope Alexander IV in 1255.
However, two hundred years elapsed before the university was awarded its first premises; all its teaching activities were originally carried out in the chapels of the Old Cathedral and in houses rented from the Cathedral chapter. The conferrals of degrees were still being held in the chapel of Saint Barbara in the 19th century.
Theuniversity library, which currently holds over 900,000 volumes, was established in the year 1254 when the Carta Magna of Alfonso X included the creation of a Stationary position, i.e. the owner of a ‘station’ of books, paid for by the University and responsible for maintaining updated copies for public query.
The first library, constructed above the original chapel, was moved when the height of the chapel was raised. The library was moved to the upper floor and finished c.1512. The library you see today dates to the 18th century.
WhenChristopher Columbus was lobbying the King and Queen of Spain for a contract to seek out a western route to the Indies, he made his case to a council of geographers at the University of Salamanca.
In the 16th century, the morality of colonisation in the Indies was debated at the university, along with questions of economics, philosophy and theology. Don’t miss a mural known as the Sky of
Salamanca, a painting of the signs of the zodiac which dates to 1473. It formed part of the arch of the first library.