Established in 1218, Salamanca University in northwest Spain is one of the oldest institutions in Europe and the country's first higher education institute.
The prestigious university, which teaches about 30,000 students, has been dubbed the ”Oxford of Spain“ and is an important centre for the study of the humanities. Salamanca University also has campuses in Ávila, Béjar and Zamora.
Salamanca University is made up of the colleges of law, liberal arts, and science and medicine, as well as other academic units, and there are more than 250 academic programmes on offer.
The institution began teaching Spanish language and cultural courses in 1929 and attracts more than 4,000 foreign language learners each year. The year-round Spanish language programme is taught in the Escuelas Menores building where graduating students once wrote their signatures on its walls in an ink made of bull’s blood, olive oil and herbs. The university's motto roughly translates as "what nature doesn't give, Salamanca doesn't provide".
University alumni include Don Quixote author Miguel de Cervantes, Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés, and the film director Alexander Payne, who directed About Schmidt and Sideways.
Salamanca, which has a population of about 170,000 people, is about two hours' drive from Madrid. It is known as ”La Dorada“, or the Golden City, because of the ”glow“ given off by its sandstone buildings. Its Old City, home to Plaza Mayor, two cathedrals and the House of Shells, has Unesco World Heritage Centre status. In 2002, the city was named European Capital of Culture.