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The latest news about what is going on in the city of Salamanca.


Salamanca and its history (part 2 / 2)

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

In the 16th Century Salamanca united under the movement of the Communities of Castilla (1520) against the taxes demanded by King Carlos I. After the defeat of the rebels, Carlos I ordered that the towers of the noble palaces in Salamanca be shortened.

The School of Salamanca, led by Francisco de Vitoria (1483- 1546), began its defence of the rights of the natives of the New World. De Vitoria revised the doctrines on the laws of theology, nature and nations, and laid the foundations of contemporary human law and of international law. Representatives from the School of Salamanca actively participated in the Council of Trent (1545- 1563). Also during the 16th Century, Fray Luis de León, a university professor, was imprisoned by the Inquisition for having dared to translate the biblical ‘song of solomon’. When he was released, he once more took up his classes, beginning “As we were saying yesterday…” The two most important mystical poets of the Spanish Renaissance, Saint John of the Cross and Saint Teresa of Ávila, also passed through Salamanca, leaving their mark on the city.

Salamanca reflected in the river

In 1580, in a town of 24,000 inhabitants, the university had more than 6,500 students. It is thought that Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra was probably an alumnus of the university of Salamanca, as he makes reference to the city in some of his works. In addition to his short farce La Cueva de Salamanca, are the references to Salamanca by the bachelor Samson Carrasco in Don Quixote de la Mancha and the famous quote in El licenciado Vidriera (the Lawyer of Glass): “Salamanca que enhechiza la voluntad de volver a ella a todos los que de la apacibilidad de su vivienda han gustado.”

Salamanca didn’t escape the general decadence of the 17th Century; however, in the 18th Century it experienced a sort of revival, from a cultural and economic point of view. Perhaps the best example of this is the construction of its impressive plaza mayor, in the baroque style, in 1729. One of the singular most important people in Spanish culture of the 18th Century was born and died in Salamanca: Diego Torres de Villarroel (1694-1770), mathematician, writer, astrologer, medic, and university professor.

The university, the main square, Cervantes and Fray Luis de León

During the Peninsular War, the French Army was defeated in the battle of Arapiles (1812). Despite the devastation of certain parts of the town at the hands of the French army – for example the current Salamanca Pontifical University was used as barracks for Napoleon’s troops, who caused much damage-, the real decadence began with the closure of the universities decreed by Fernando VII. When the university of Salamanca reopened it no longer was a universally recognised seat of knowledge, but a small university in a Castilian province.

The Frog of the University of Salamanca brings good luck who finds it without help

At the start of the 20th Century, a citizen of Salamanca by adoption, Miguel de Unamuno played an active part in the cultural and political life of the city as Rector of the university between 1900 and 1914. After being exiled, he returned to Salamanca where he died on the 31st December 1936. The Spanish Civil War had begun on the 18th July, and Salamanca was united from the start against the Second Republic of Spain. During the war it was an important city: all the documents obtained by the national troops during the occupation of the country were concentrated in Salamanca. The General Archive of the Spanish Civil War was created, and under Franco it was used to take reprisals against the defeated side. The part of the archive belonging to Catalonia was returned in 2006.

With the establishment of democracy and the arrival of the monarchy in Spain, the prestige of the city and its university rose once more. It was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1988. Despite its demographic stagnation and aging population, Salamanca is a beautiful and emblematic city that has managed to combine cultural heritage and cosmopolitan life, a combination which probably earned the town its title of European City if Culture, along with Brussels, in 2002.

The human race has left its mark on Salamanca, including almost mythical characters that make it hard for us to distinguish between reality and fiction.

It is a city steeped in history and legend, which invites us to listen to the voices and echoes of centuries of history both along its zigzagged streets and inside its incomparable buildings.

Salamanca’s gastronomy, local products and dishes

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Farinato, a special delicatessen of Salamanca

The strong flavours of such meats like lomo, chorizo or Ham have been the inspiration for many of the typical dishes of Salamanca: hornazoa lomo, meat and egg pie-; chanfaina – a popular rice dish with lamb and chicken giblets, blood pudding and chorizo-; roast suckling pig, and farinato, made up of pork fat, bread, oil and flour. Farinato is eaten raw, or cooked and served with a couple of fried eggs.

And let’s not forget the vegetables of the province of Salamanca, notably the La Armuña lentils, which are particularly popular due to their low fat and high fibre content, and the pedrosillano chickpeas with their unbeatable appearance and creamy texture. As you explore the city, you will more than likely come across sacs containing the yellow and brown mix of these vegetables, with the odd dot of red or green. This visual feast is well worth sampling – even if it’s just a spoonful.

Worth a chapter on their own are the pureed potatoes (patatas meneás or patatas revolconas) which have gone from being nothing more than something to fill you up to an exquisite dish that is offered in all of the best restaurants. This potato is the base of a casserole, which is served with fried bacon and pancetta, and garnished with both sweet and spicy paprika, salt, onion, olive oil and laurel (or “aurel” as it is known in many parts of the region).

Lomo, Vegetables, Ham and Fun in Salamanca

As well as the many butchers shops and delicatessens, Salamanca also contains a great amount of confiterías (sweet shops). The abundance of such shops is understandable when you take into account the huge variety of confectionary that is produced all over the province of Salamanca: the obleas (wafers) and turrón (nougat-candy) of La Alberca, the perronillas (a type of biscuit) – made from flour, butter, eggs, lemon, cinemon, sugar and pine-nuts – or the chochos, which are never-ending white sweets, coated in syrup, and only advisable for the very sweet-toothed.

If you want to sample the wine of the region, you have some options: the Juan García and Malvasía de Arribes del Duero varieties; and the rufete variety, or the Tiriñuelo wine from the Sierra de Salamanca.

Teaching with new multimedia technology and digital boards

Monday, June 14th, 2010


At Mester Academy we strive to stay at the cutting edge of teaching, employing the latest technologies and teaching methods to ensure our Spanish students are given the best classes they can be given.

One of  our most recent advances at the Academy is the installation of a number of digital boards in the classrooms. These teaching aids provide the teachers with a larger selection of resources than  ever before, guaranteeing the classes are as dynamic and interesting as possible.

Incredibly easy to use and set up, the boards can be calibrated and made ready to use within a couple of minutes.  A “pencil”, which works the same way as a PC mouse, is used when setting the board up: it marks out the 9 points between which the images will be projected and then later, writes or “clicks” on the options of whatever programme is chosen by the user.   The movements of the pencil are detected by device fitted in the corner of the board and the image comes from a projector.  These are the only three pieces which comprise the board, making it ideal for quick set-up and storage.

The elements of the digital board

Standard Uses

The applications are many and varied.  From Internet to Spotify to all the usual Office applications, the boards can even be used as a normal PC.  This enormous range of uses benefits both the students, who enjoy the classes more given the interaction aspect the boards add to the lessons, and the teachers, to who the boards give the opportunity to keep their lessons fresh and interesting. What is more, the teachers are able to save the classes given, as though the board was a usual PC, and so come back to them in the future or pass what’s been dealt with in class on to the students for home-study.

Different uses of the digital board

Other Uses

Examples of novel uses include the download of modern Spanish songs to exemplify a certain verb tense, style of vocabulary or syntactic use, the projection of recent newspaper articles for class discussion and the showing of film clips as a means to show students anything from “real Spanish life” to interaction and dialogue between native speakers.

The many ways in which the board can be used


The installation of these boards is evidence of the Mester Academy’s dedication to teaching, something to bear in mind when picking a Spanish school in Spain.  The opportunities for interaction which the board promotes ensure the students will be using, as well as studying, their new found language skills every single day – the only way to consolidate and accelerate foreign language learning.

Salamanca in the snow!

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Salamanca in the snow

This Christmas Spain had loads of snow all over December (and there’s still some falling now!), and Salamanca was no exception.

Anaya in the snow

Anaya in the snow

Elisa took the students on a guided trip around the city to see the sights the morning after a huge snowfall, the city was white! They started at the school and headed down towards the Cathedral stopping off at the main sights on route.

The first pretty square between here and there is the Plaza de la Libertad, normally a lovely green square with nices cafés and restaurants next to the Plaza Mayor, but the day of the trip it was completely white and sparkly! It has some nicer cafés for those who fancy a posh coffee! The next stop is the Plaza Mayor which is right next door. Sadly the christmas tree still wasn’t up but at least it was all snowed over and the christmas lights on the buildings were up.

Veronika and Elisa by the Cathedral

Veronika and Elisa by the Cathedral

Further up the road the next stop is the Casa de Las Conchas, a really nice building covered in shells right next to the Universidad Pontifícia, the religious university which has a really pretty cathedral. Incide Las Conchas there’s a small square where you can go in and have a look, from the upstairs balcony there’s a really pretty view of the top of the Pontifícia.

Just arond the corner there’s the Calle Libreros where the Patio Escuelas is, with the famous University front and the frog! It was even prettier covered in snow and they even made a snowman in the little square!! The trick is to find the frog without being told where it is…

The Cathedral

The Cathedral

This is right next to the Palacio de Anaya, the Filology Faculty of the University and a really old and pretty building, and the Cathedral where the trip ends. The Cathedral is enormous and is actually made up of 2 cathedrals! There’s an older small one with a huge newer cathedral attached, it’s really impressive and well worth a visit. Because of the snow, though, everyone was more interested in playing in Plaza Anaya and attacking each other with snow balls! It was a great day to do the trip around the city and they were lucky with the weather, it’s not often the city is so cold and white!


The group in the Plaza Mayor

The Spanish language, an asset upward in the world

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

From 1995, the demand of this type of tourism has been increased to an approximated rate of an annual 10%. In 2006, about 150,000 tourists traveled to Spain with a total cost of 255 million Euros. The education offer of Spanish for foreigners in Spain is divided between private centers ( 325 schools for a 80% of the students) and public universities, with more than 40 centers than they take care of the rest.

The importance of having a discussion, analyze and conclude about the value of these economic resources related to the Spanish language, about the present and future strategies of this potential business. That is the objective of the “Congreso Internacional sobre el valor del idioma español”, that will be celebrated in Salamanca from the 24 to the 26 of November (2008).

You can check the program here:

Monday 24 of November
08,30 h Reception and inscription of the participants and delivery of documentation.
slow down-coffee
10.00 – 12.00 h Official inauguration

The role of public institutions in the promotion and dissemination of language.

D. Juan Vicente Herrera, president of the Meeting of Castile and Leon

The role of the Institute Cervantes in the promotion and diffusion of the Spanish in the world

Mrs Carmen Caffarel, director of the Cervantes Institute

Spain, Target destination of the tourism related to the learning of the Spanish
D. Joan Mesquida, Secretary of State of Tourism

12,00 h Pause
12.30 – 14.00 h Thematic panels

Room 1:

The tourism associated to the Spanish: economic possibilities and benefits
Conductor: D. Jose Antonio Carrasco, president of the Spanish Association of Professionals of the Tourism.

The tourist product related to the education of the Spanish in Spain: the international demand

D. Antonio Bernabé García, director of Turespaña

The tourism related to the language: a business in expansion
D. Mauro Biondi, president of STOP (Association of language Travel Organization)

Room 2:

The education of the Spanish for foreigners in Spain: situation and challenges

Conductor: D. Julio Fermoso, ex- director of the University of Salamanca and President of ‘Caja Duero’

University program of ELE education
D. Juan Felipe García Santos, expert in Spanish language and director of International Courses of the University of Salamanca

The Spanish for foreigners, a business in rise

D. Francisco Perez, president of FEDELE (Spanish Federación of Schools of Spanish like Language

The Spanish, The second language more studied of the world

D. José María Izquierdo, president of the Federation Internacional of Associations of Professors of Spanish

The academic training and employment in Spanish like foreign language in Spain

Dña. Eulalia Bombareli González, technician of ECYL.

The expansive attraction of the Spanish in the Anglo-Saxon world

D. Carlos Vega, president of APUNE (Association of North American University Programs in Spain)

The international perspective about education of the Spanish,

D. Francisco Moreno Fernández. academic director of the Cervantes Institute

14.00 – 16.00 h Lunch for assistants
16.30 – 18.00 h Forum of discusion

Room 1:

The Spanish, a language for the businesses
Conductor and initial presentation:

D. Angel Cabrera , president of Thunderbird, The Garvin School of International Management

The language like competitive advantage in the relations with Latin America

Miguel de la Rosa , director of Acción Institucional para Latinoamérica de Telefónica

The Spanish like new asset in the businesses at international level

Jose Manuel Moreno , director-coordinator of global division Santander Universities and general assistant director of the Santander Group

Room 2:

Thematic panel: Language, leisure and the hotel trade: An attractive tourist and economic one.

Lines of action of the lodgings of rural tourism to attract the linguistic business
Javier Herrera Platero, president of ASETUR (Spanish Association of Rural Tourism)

Miguel Carrera Troyano, professor of Economy applied of the University of Salamanca.

16.30 – 18.30 h Commercial presentations of companies related to the Spanish like tourist resource (OPTIONAL). In parallel, throughout the day tables of hiring will be organized
18.30 h End of the day and optional activities plan
Tuesday 25 of November
10.00 – 11.00 h Conference: “The business of the culture”. Format interviews
11.00 h Coffee Break
11.30 – 12.00 Presentation of study

Chanel Windows

12.00 – 13.30 h Thematic panels

Room 1:New channels for the promotion of the Spanish


D. Miguel Pérez Subías, president of the Association of Users of Internet

Internet, an effective tool for the promotion of the Spanish

Luis Collado, Book person in charge of Google Spain and Portugal

Changes and advantages of the new forms of communication
Javier del Arco Icarabias Méndez, scientific and cultural coordinator of the Foundation Vodafone Spain.

Ramón Tijeras, director of the Virtual Center Cervantes and Informatic and Cervantes TV

The Internet television like channel for the promotion and diffusion of the Spanish

Sergio Gazeau, founder of Lingus TV

Room 2:

Language and economy: international experiences. The Cultural Institutes of England, France and Germany

Presenter and Moderator:

D. Juan Pedro Basterrechea, director of Commercial Management and Development of the Cervantes Institute

The English, a tourist business in England: the management of the Bristish Council
Tony Jones, director of the services of quality of the English of the British Council

The French, bow of union of 56 countries: the paper of the Alliance Française in its international diffusion
D. Pascale Fabre, director of the Alliance Française

13.30 – 15.30 h Rest and Lunch
16.00 – 18.00 h Forum of Debate

Room 1:

Economic benefits derived from the students mobility programs.

The European support to the mobility of students
D. Jose Ramon Alonso. director of the University of Salamanca

The English experience in the education and mobility programs through world.

D. Gerry O’Sullivan, person in charge of the European Programs of The Higher Education Authority.

The mobility programs, a contribution to the cultural and linguistic development of Europe.
Gesa Heym-Halayqa, vicedean of International Subjects of the Office Internacional of the Free University of Berlin.

The promotion of the study of the Spanish in the United Kingdom schools and the promotion of Spain as destiny of linguistic tourism.

Jose Antonio del Tejo, advisor of education of the Spanish embassy in the United Kingdom.

Rafael Bonete, University of Salamanca

Room 2:

Agencies and academies: synergies and competitions

The organization and management of the abroad language courses: the paper of the academies

Dña. Rosa Canela Pique, president of Inlingua

The specialization, key of the supply of the academies

D. Antonio Anadón, president of Enforex

Agencies: The integral management of trips to learn languages
D. Richard Bradford, managing director of Cactus in UK

Accreditation of the quality in the ELE centers

Ane Muñoz, Cervantes Institute

16.00 – 18.00 h Commercial presentations of companies related to the Spanish like tourist resource (OPTIONAL). In parallel, throughout the day tables of hiring will be organized
18.00 h End of the day and optional activities plan
Wednesday 26 of November
10.00 h Conference: “The Hispanic market of mass media”. Format interviews
11.00 h Coffee Break
11.30 – 13.00 h Thematic panels

Room 1:The publishing sector in Hispanic speech

D. Jose Moyano, president of ANELE, National Association of Book Publishers and Training material.

The increasing demand of books and materials of quality for the education of the Spanish language and culture.

D. Emiliano Martinez, president of Santillana Group

Past, present and future of the training materials of the Spanish like foreign language
Carlos Gumpert, director of Sgel

13.00 – 14.00 h Conference.

“The yield of the Spanish like economic resource in the international markets”

D. José Luis García Delgado, ex- director of the University Menéndez Pelayo, maximum responsible of the project “Economic Value of the Spanish: a multinational enterprise ” and Academic member of the Real Academy of Sciences Morals and Policies.

14.00 h Cocktail lunch of Closing