Thursday, August 21, 2008

Introducing Salamanca, el puente Romana y el rio Tormes

My (maternal) grandparents were from Salamanca. They left to Mexico before the Spanish Civil War and settled in Sonora, Mexico (where my Mother and all of her siblings are from). My grandparents died long before I was born, so I never got to meet them. They have been a great source of mystery my whole entire life. I spent the majority of my time in Spain here. I had some unresolved business to take care of.

Salamanca is a city located in the western part of Spain, sharing part of the border with Portugal. Here is a copy and paste of Wikipedia's paragraph on Salamanca's history:

The city was founded in the pre-Ancient Rome period by the Vacceos, a Celtic tribe, as one of a pair of forts to defend their territory near the Duero river. In the third century BC, Hannibal laid siege to the city. With the fall of the Carthaginians to the Romans, the city began to take more importance as a commercial hub. At this time it was called Helmantica or Salmantica.

Salamanca surrendered to the Moors in the year 712AD. The defensive city wall was strengthened, with the Mozarab population being relegated outside of it. It was, however, a time of constant fighting with the Astur-Leonese kingdoms, and the city was trapped on the line between Christian North and Muslim South, with the city becoming a no-man's land between the two sides. It was reconquered from the Moors in the twelfth century by Ramón de Borgoa, son-in-law of Alfonso VI of Castile.

One of the most important moments in Salamanca's history was the year 1218, when Alfonso IX created the University of Salamanca. Soon it became one of the most significant and prestigious academic centres in Europe.

In the Peninsular War of the Napoleonic campaigns, the Battle of Salamanca, fought July 22, 1812, was a serious setback for the French, and a mighty setback for Salamanca, whose western quarter was seriously damaged. The battle which raged that day is famous as a defining moment in military history; many thousands of men were slaughtered by cannon fire in the space of only a few short hours.

Salamanca has this bridge that was built by the Romans that crosses over El Rio Tormes.

But before there were Romans there were Visigoths that were obsessed with doing sculptures of wild bohrs. These original and super old sculptures are found scattered around the city.

When crossing the Roman bridge one often finds families hanging out, picnicking, and sometimes fishing (the river is hiding behind the tree leaves of this photo).

More about Salamanca and what is along El Rio Tormes soon to come.

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