University of Salamanca’s 800th anniversary

Founded by King Alfonso IX of Leon in 1218, it is the oldest university in Spain and one of the longest-standing educational centres in the world.

It is one of this year’s state events: the University of Salamanca (USAL) is celebrating its 800th anniversary with an interesting programme of activities to be held in Salamanca and in other Spanish cities.

The 800th anniversary celebrations are being promoted by Marca España internationally. The collaboration between the University and Marca España also includes the promotion of the former’s amazing architectural and intellectual heritage through multiple channels and initiatives, adding visibility to the 800th anniversary conferences, top-rank institutional meetings and cultural events.

Marca España’s promotional activities will also focus on USAL’s leadership in the teaching of Spanish as a second language and the role played by the International Centre for the Spanish Language (CIE USAL), aimed at coordinating Spanish studies, learning, testing and certificates, as well as promotional activities, the development of digital content and language-related economic policies.

This project, supported by the Government of Castile-Leon, is in line with ‘Spanish, a Global Language’, a government strategy to turn the Spanish language into an opportunity tool for the Spanish-speaking community on the basis of value and use. The High Commissioner for Marca España and the Promotion of the Spanish Language, Carlos Espinosa de los Monteros, will play a key role in the implementation of this strategy.

A centre of learning since the 13th century

USAL is the oldest university in Spain. It was founded by King Alfonso IX of Leon in 1218. Over the next few years, it will celebrate its role in the development of humanism, its architectural heritage and its leadership in the teaching of Spanish in a series of activities and events. The celebrations’ strategic goals are to promote its role as a leading learning centre of the Spanish language, its international leadership in higher education, its pursuit of academic excellence, the rehabilitation of its infrastructure and architectural heritage, and its promotional efforts at the national and international levels.

One of the most interesting promotional activities consists in having an Air Europa plane bear an inscription: ‘Desde 1218. Universidad de Salamanca. VIII Centenario’ (Since 1218. University of Salamanca. 800th Anniversary) – a great way of drawing attention to such a special anniversary.

Cultural activities

USAL’s 800th anniversary cultural programme includes two travelling exhibitions: ‘Studium: University of Salamanca’s 800-Year History’ (June-October 2018) and ‘University of Salamanca, 800 years’ (organised with Spain’s Public Agency for Cultural Action, AC/E). Another exhibition, ‘From the Classroom to the Chamber: University of Salamanca’s Contribution to Spanish Democracy’, will be on a the Congress of Deputies on the occasion of another significant anniversary: the 40th birthday of the Spanish Constitution.

In the theatre department, USAL will be producing two shows: Unamuno: Venceréis pero no convenceréis (Unamuno: You Will Win, But You Will Not Convince; Teatro La Abadía, Madrid, until 4 March; previously on in Salamanca; subsequently brought to other cities) and, La cueva de Salamanca (The Cave of Salamanca; Juan del Enzina Theatre, Salamanca, 11-13 May; Teatro de la Comedia, Madrid, 7 and 17 June; other cities).

As to music, the programme begins with Old World, New World. Música de Europa y de las Américas (Music from Europe and the Americas), by Ars Nova Copenhagen. This concert will be followed by a performance of the RTVE Symphony Orchestra (Centre for the Performing Arts and Music, CAEM, Salamanca, 23 February) and Handel’s Radamisto by Wiener Akademie (CAEM, Salamanca, 23 April).

There will be publications to mark the anniversary too: a revised edition of El Cielo de Salamanca, a comic book about the history of the University, a study of the main building’s façade, and an anthology of essays on Adolfo Suárez and the Spanish transition to democracy.

Finally, there will be a TV show – a historical thriller produced by TVE and La Cometa TV set in sixteenth-century Salamanca and, of course, featuring the University, to be released this year. In sum, 2018 will be a year to remember for Salamanca and its University.