A W. Province Of Spain, in Leon, bordering on Portugal and the provinces of Zamora, Valladolid, Avila, and Cáceres; area, 4,940 sq. m.; pop. in 1870 estimated at 280,870. It is hilly in the north and mountainous in the south. The chief rivers are the Tonnes, Yeltes, and Agueda, tributaries of the Douro, which forms part of the N. W. boundary line, and the Alagon, an affluent of the Tagus. Gold occurs in the Agueda and the Alagon; iron, copper, and lead are found, but few mines are now in operation; rock crystal and saltpetre are abundant; and there are numerous thermal springs. The soil is very fertile, and grain and fruits are plentiful; but much the larger part of the country is divided between forest and pasturage, and many animals are reared. The wines and oils of Salamanca are justly esteemed; but the once flourishing manufactures of carpets, laces, and leathers have become insignificant. Besides the capital, the chief towns are Ciudad Rodrigo, Bejar, Peñaranda, and Alba de Tor-mes.
A City (Anc. Salmantica), capital of the province, built on three hills, on the right bank of the Tormes, 110 m. W. N. W. of Madrid; pop. about 17,700. It is surrounded by ancient walls, and presents from without a quaint and picturesque appearance. The streets generally are very irregular; but the numerous public squares are fine and spacious, especially the Plaza Mayor, one of the largest in the kingdom. This square is flanked on every side by a magnificent colonnaded arcade, the lower portion of which is for the most part occupied by shops. On the N. side is the city hall; and the façades of the S. and W. sides are embellished with busts of sovereigns and great men of Spain. As many as 20,000 spectators commonly attended the bull fights of which this square was the scene as late as 1863. The number and beauty of its public edifices have gained for Salamanca the appellation of Roma la Chica (little Rome). Foremost among them is the cathedral, in the florid Gothic style, begun in 1513, after a plan of Juan Gil de Otañon, and consecrated in 1560. Near it is the old cathedral, a massive structure of Norman-French architecture, founded in 1102 by Gerónimo, the confessor of the Cid. The bridge over the Tormes, with 27 arches, was partly built by the Romans, and finished under Philip IV. The university, founded about 1200, was one of the most celebrated in Europe, having sometimes upward of 10,000 students; but it is now almost deserted.
The chief libraries are those of the university and of the college of San Bartolomé. Woollens, leather, hats, and earthenware are manufactured. - Salamanca was an ancient city of the Vettones. It was taken by Hannibal in 222 B. C. Under the Romans it was made a military station, and the remains of a road made by them and some monuments are still extant. It was captured and ravaged by the Moors, who were finally expelled from it in 1095. In the 12th century it was made a bishopric, and several councils were held here in the 14th and 15th. The battle of Salamanca, in which the French, after pillaging many of the public buildings and destroying 13 convents and 20 colleges, were defeated by Wellington, July 22, 1812, took place 4 m. S. E. of the city.