For centuries, the university town of Salamanca has entertained students, children and visitors with a game of “spot the frog.” An immense sandstone carving guards the entrance to the Universidad Civil and legend has it that those who find the small (and weathered) frog among the heroes, legends and coats of arms will have good luck in the following year.
Sounds straightforward enough, right?
Not so fast.
The frog is small, the carving intricate. As befits the oldest university in Spain (and third oldest in the world,) the University Entrance is a rather grand affair. Even when you know what you’re looking for, it can take some time.
Related: Madrid’s Literary Quarter
By now, however, the poor frog looks considerably worse for wear.
A few streets away, a similar apricot-coloured carving graces the walls of the New Cathedral (after all, work only began on this one in 1513.)
Spain, like many European countries, has plenty of cathedrals: vast, ornate monuments that dominate city centres and symbolise both the church’s power and its importance throughout the region’s history.
But how many have an astronaut in their delicately-carved stone?
Take a closer look, however, because during 20th century restoration work, a new citizen appeared among the gargoyles…
The astronaut of Salamanca.
Hi, I'm Abi, a doctor turned writer who's worked with Lonely Planet, the BBC, UNESCO and more. Let's travel more and think more. Find out more.
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