It is one of the largest squares in Spain and lies right at the entrance of the medieval town. Its origins are found in the 11th century, when the space was used for the great traditional holidays. The buildings are from different eras, with all of them having a 16th century ground floor colonnade. On the northwestern side, the Bujaco Tower is an eye-catching building, now a symbol of the city. It was built during the Arab rule, on top of Roman foundations. It seems its name comes from the local word for straw dolls, bujacos.
The town took its name from count Rodrigo González Girón. It was he who, in the middle of the 12th century, banished the Moors from the region once and for all, and built the town on top of a former Roman castrum, itself once built on top of a Celtic settlement. The solid fortifications speak of the position on the frontier with Portugal. Paradoxically, although one of the most well defended European borders on both sides, this frontier is the most stable in all of European history and has remained virtually the same for 500 years. The only fighting to take place here was with Napoleon’s armies. Nowhere is the relation between square and margin more obvious than in such citadels.
The construction of the square begins in 1729, by order of Phillip V, with the square being meant primarily for bull fights. Today, it is seen as one of the most beautiful squares in Spain and in the whole of Europe. The space offers a paradoxical optical illusion. It seems a perfect quadrangle, although, as seen from an aerial photo, the shape is irregular. The baroque façades of the building, which surrounds and defines the square perimeter, seem perfectly symmetrical on a first glance, but, in reality, not one of them has the same height. Entire books have been written about the square in Salamanca, and, to this day, it is considered the absolute model of Spanish squares.