The city 200 km north-west of Madrid is situated in a desolate region plagued by flight to the cities, an area where the winters are as unmercifully cold as the summers are hot. Nevertheless, the 2,000-year-old city on the Rio Tormes remains one of the most popular tourist destinations in Spain, due in no small part to the historical university which has shaped the local history and produced a large number of renowned scholars. It was thus here that Columbus presented his ambitious plan to reach the West via India to a group of skeptical professors. Today Salamanca is home to over 40,000 students, which explains the city's cosmopolitan flair and vibrant night life. The entire Old Town with its numerous registered landmarks from the 16th century is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.