Top Ten Oldest Universities Around the World

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5. University of Salamanca (Salamanca, Spain, Founded in 1218)

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The University of Salamanca, Spanish higher education institution

The University of 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.

It is the oldest university in operation in Spain. Although there are records of the University granting degrees many years before (James Trager’s People’s Chronology sets its foundation date in 1134), it only received the Royal chart of foundation as “Estudio General” in 1218, making it possibly the fourth or even the third oldest European university in continuous operations. However, it was the first European university to receive the title of “University” as such, granted by king of Castile and León Alfonso X and the Pope in 1254. Having been excluded from the University in 1852 by the Spanish government, the Faculties of Theology and Canon Law became the Pontifical University of Salamanca in 1940.

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