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Thursday, August 21, 2008 (read 945 times)

Summer activity in Salamanca: history brought to life

by Stacey

The text below has been translated and expanded from the original color & illustrative pamphlet (in Spanish), also attached.

This summer, the city of Salamanca is offering an ongoing program of free cultural activities to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Spanish War of Independence events that took place in Salamanca from 1808 to 1814.

During the past month of July and continuing until December, residents and visitors alike can watch actors and actresses bring history back to life in "Landscapes, Marches and Characters: The Spanish War of Independence. "

These 5 individual theatrical performances will show you how the province of Salamanca suffered for 6 years the constant passage of French armies on their way to invade Portugal as they fought British and Portuguese soldiers on Salamanca soil. Many citizens did not know where to turn, and many others considered changing sides overnight. The city, however, found the strength to resist and today, Salamanca is living proof that time heals all wounds.

An actor dressed in period clothing will guide the visitors on foot through the 5 different locations throughout the city in which various characters of the era tell their stories: a spy, a soldier, a widow…

Location 1:
Starts in the Plaza Mayor, where visitors are "recruited " into 2 goups: as French soldiers and as allies, becoming part of the history performance. Once divided, "troops march off to war"!

Location 2:
Like 2 well-prepared military units, they "march " towards Plaza de las Agustinas to remember what love was like in times of war and how hard it was to live. It's Salamanca the day before the occupation. (Scene: The story of the confectioner who fell in love and poisoned her doughnuts).

Location 3:
The "troops" then march on toward Colegio de los Irlandeses (Fonseca), where the guide explains how Salamanca was during the occupation: full of spies, their missions and many European and international strategies that existed. (Scene: The incredible story of the spy Patrick Curtis).

Location 4:
Continuing their "march", the troops make their way to Cuesta de la Independencia to learn about the army, it's soldiers and it's men. Also learn about the different cultures, styles, food, sizes and languages of the day. (Scene: The mysterious widow and story of Captain Synge)

Location 5:
The last stop of the tour is in Vaguada de la Palma where panoramic view of the forts, resistances and bombardments can be observed. It's also the place where the entire battalion (visitors) "graduate " from the War of Independence and can explore the grounds.

It is an interesting approach on how the French soldiers, British soldiers and the Spanish population coexisted together during these complex years. On July 22nd of 1812, the suburbs of Salamanca was the scene of one of the most decisive battles of this war: the Battle of Los Arapiles. The surrounding Salamanca villages who had already suffered in the Napoleonic War were Tamames, Alba de Tormes, Ciudad Rodrigo and Fuentes de Oñoro.

The head of Salamanca's official tourism office adds: "most people who take this guided visit will be amazed at the knowledge they gain of the city since even most locals are not aware of the stories that exist regarding certain places or events". The objective of this 1.5 hour long tour is for people to become aware of the lesser-known history through humor and factual historical accounts. These events are to be held this year and over the next few years, aiming to give the city a voice, to tell the story of the people involved as well as visiting the scenes.

Tour Schedule:
July, August and September: every Sunday at 11am.
October, November: every Sunday at 12pm.
December: Sunday 7th at 12pm. (last day)

Check out don Quijote's school in Salamanca!

Keywords: summer activity,salamanca,history


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