San Esteban Convent, Salamanca

San Esteban Convent, Salamanca

As you wander the streets of Salamanca, you will stumble across many churches, convents, and university buildings.

The Dominican Convent of St. Stephen, is of particular interest, and one of the city’s most impressive historical attraction.

The Dominican friars, settled in Salamanca between 1255 and 1256. In this current site occupied by the Iglesia de San Esteban (church of St. Stephen), they built the original convent.  The old convent, was demolished to build this impressive church in 1524, by the initiative of Cardinal Fray Juan Álvarez de Toledo, to reflect the grandeur of his order.

Its construction lasted from 1524 to 1610, therefore, extended its construction phases many years, which explains the mixture of styles ranging from Gothic to Baroque style.  There is little Baroque noticeable in its architecture, but very much on the high altar, work of José de Churriguera.

The Convento de San Esteban, has enjoyed a rich and varied history at the heart of the Dominican community in Spain.  Here started the School of Salamanca, to designate the renaissance of the discipline of thought in diverse areas, held by a large group of Spanish and Portuguese academics.  Specially theologians, that followed the intellectual, and pedagogical work of Francisco de Vitoria at University of Salamanca.  Also, you can visit here, The “Salon de Profundis”, where Columbus had conversations with the Dominican friars during his voyages to the West Indies.  The Salon de Profundis, can still be visited today.

Salamanca is home to oldest active university in Spain.  The University of Salamanca was founded in 1218 by Alfonso IX of León, and also became the first in Europe with the title of “University”, by the edict of 1253 of Alfonso X the Wise, and of Pope Alexander IV in 1255.

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