The University of Salamanca (Spanish: Universidad de Salamanca) is a Spanish higher education institution, located in the town of Salamanca, west of Madrid, in the autonomous community of Castilla and León. It was founded in 1134 and given the Royal charter of foundation by King Alfonso IX in 1218. It is the oldest founded university in Spain and the third oldest European university in continuous operations. It was the first European institution to receive the formal title of "University" as such; it was granted by King Alfonso X in 1254 and recognized by Pope Alexander IV in 1255.
Salamanca is a city in northwestern Spain, the capital of the Province of Salamanca in the community of Castile and León. Its Old City was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. With a metropolitan population around 192,000 it is the second most populated urban area in Castile and León, after Valladolid (369,000), and closely followed by Leon (187,000) and Burgos (176,000).
It is the most important university city in Spain and supplies 16% of Spain's market for the teaching of the Spanish language. Salamanca attracts thousands of international students, generating a diverse environment.
It is situated approximately 200 km (120 mi) west of the Spanish capital Madrid and 80 km (50 mi) east of the Portuguese border. The University of Salamanca, which was founded in 1218, is the oldest university in Spain and the third oldest western university, but the first to be given its status by the Pope Alexander IV who gave universal validity to its degrees. With its 30,000 students, the university is, together with tourism, a primary source of income in Salamanca.