If you’re ever in the Spanish city of Salamanca and you need a souvenir of your trip, I’d like to suggest very enthusiastically that you visit Luis Méndez Artesanos on calle Meléndez and buy yourself some botón charro jewelry.
Botón charro is a symbol of the city that dates back to the 1200s. It’s worked in stone and carved into doorways all over the city, and you can find cheap key chains and magnets and earrings in basically any regalos shop. However, if you want something a little nicer, definitely go see Luis.
I visited his taller when I was in Salamanca in the summer, and he hand makes all this super delicate filigree from real silver. In the other shops it’s usually not silver and it’s usually made from molds, not handmade. I bought earrings for myself and my friends as well as a ring, and it only cost me a fraction of what it would have for something comparable in the US - it’s actually unbelievably affordable. Not only that, Luis was really patient with our clumsy Spanish and our need to try on and retry on all the different sizes and styles until we could decide what we wanted. He even custom-made some earrings for a few of my friends who wanted something in a slightly different style.
When my apartment burned down three months ago, unfortunately, my botón charro ring got left on my nightstand and we couldn’t find it in the aftermath. I was pretty devastated to have lost all my souvenirs of my trip to Spain, so I got in contact with Luis to see if he ever shipped orders to the US. When my professor explained to him what had happened and that she wanted to pay for me to replace the ring when she was back in the city this summer (this was also INCREDIBLY nice of her, I am surrounded by unbelievably generous people), Luis said that of course he can ship to the US, but that he would only send me a replacement ring if I would accept it as a gift. He didn’t have to do this at all, and I am incredibly grateful. My ring arrived in the mail yesterday and I’m so, so happy to have it.
So, if you’re in Salamanca, please patronize Luis and his shop. He is a great man and an amazingly talented artist, and it’s the best souvenir you’re going to find in the city. Well, that and the one euro 1858 maps in the tourism office (actually, if anyone is there, pick me up one of those, would you?).