The city is populated with 500-year old buildings that are just as stunning, if not more so, than any modern skyscraper. It’s hard to believe that some buildings were built in another time period, while others are symbols of a modern and reinvigorated Salamanca. The Palacio de Monterrey, Universidad de Salamanca, and la Casa de las Conchas (the House of Shells) all employ the plateresque architectural technique that translates literally to “in the style of a silversmith,” and is characterized by “extremely lavish, meticulously refined style.” The technique dates back to the 1500s and was continued through the Renaissance in Spanish buildings. It symbolizes status and regality while flexing the architects’ and sculptors’ detail-driven muscle, invoking a delicate balance between the size and craftsmanship of the site. These ornate embellishments must be seen in person to appreciate them fully.
The Casa Lis Museum of Modern Art Nouveau and Art Deco opened in 1995 and quickly became one of the most frequented museums in the Castillo and Leon region. The building itself was commissioned by Miguel de Lis in the early 20th century and started out as a palace. Since 1995, the museum has been home to the collections of the Manual Ramos Andrade Foundation. The windows, ceiling and façade are covered in magnificent stained glass that dares the visitor to imagine the level of glasswork of the vases and dolls found within. The glass construction is in stark contrast to its neighbors’ exteriors, but the use of sandstone walls makes the museum fit in with the area while maintaining a unique look.
The museum holds 19 collections of decorative art from the 19th and 20th centuries and over 2,500 preserved pieces. One of the collections is of chryselephantines – a type of cult statue produced in the height of Ancient Greece. They are made of ivory and bronze with fine metals such as gold leaf appliqué and precious stones inset into the pieces. Each statue was to represent the confluent heights in sculpture, carpentry, jewelry and ivory carving and the overall art deco aesthetic. It is also home to the largest collection of porcelain dolls in the world with over 300 individual items. Its glass collection is renowned and is comprised of 200 pieces including vases, scent bottles, fine figures of translucent and iridescent glasses, lamps and table games.
The museum’s other collections include “porcelains, vases, enamels, jewels, bronzes, toys, sculptures by Hagenaur, fans, textiles, antique postcards, and paintings by 19th century-Catalonian artists and Salamanca-born painters, such as Celso Lagar and Mateo Hernández,” and temporary exhibitions like reflections on the Japanese influence on modernist and art deco arts.
At only 3 € for adults, 2 € for students and the retired, and free for children, the museum is a highly affordable way to spend a couple hours before dinner. Like most Spanish businesses, the museum does honor the daily siesta during the week and so is closed in the mid-afternoon.
April, 1st– October, 15th
Tuesday – Friday: 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, Sunday and holidays: 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Monday: closed (opened on Mondays in August and Bank Holidays)
October, 16th – March, 31st
Tuesday – Friday: 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, Sunday and holidays: 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Monday: closed
Closed: The Museum will be closed on December 24th, 25th and 31st and January 1st and 6th.