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The city was founded in the pre-Ancient Rome period by the Vaccaei, a Celtic tribe, or the Vettones, a Celtic or pre-Celtic indo-European tribe, as one of a pair of forts to defend their territory near the Duero river.In 220 BC Hannibal laid siege to the city and captured it.The Nationalists soon moved most of the administrative departments to Burgos, which being more central was better suited for this purpose.
With a metropolitan population of 228,881 in 2012 according to the National Institute of Statistics (INE), Salamanca is the second most populated urban area in Castile and León, after Valladolid (414,000), and ahead of León (187,000) and Burgos (176,000).
After the capture of Toledo by Alfonso VI of León and Castile in 1085, the definitive resettlement of the city took place.
Raymond of Burgundy, instructed by his father-in-law Alfonso VI of León, led a group of settlers of various origins in 1102.
During the 16th century, the city reached its height of splendour (around 6,500 students and a total population of 24,000).
During that period, the University of Salamanca hosted the most important intellectuals of the time; these groups of mostly-Dominican scholars were designated the School of Salamanca.The constant fighting of the Kingdom of León first, and the Kingdom of Castile and León later against the Caliphate depopulated Salamanca and reduced it to an unimportant settlement.