Santander, Cantabria (Spain)

By | July 1, 2022

According to Animalerts, the city of Santander is the capital of the autonomous region of Cantabria and is located on the coast of the Bay of Biscay. It is spread out on the shores of Santander Bay. The city was founded by the Romans in the 1st century BC. Since the beginning of the 20th century, Santander has been known as a popular seaside resort, because it was he who became the favorite vacation spot of King Alfonso XIII of Spain and his entourage. Unfortunately, the fire that happened in 1941 destroyed most of the Old Town, but still there is something to see here.

First of all, it is a Gothic Cathedral 13th century. The cathedral was badly damaged by fire in 1941, but was completely restored in the 50s of the 20th century. Nearby, on the Plaza de Generalísimo, there is the town hall and the La Esperanza market. Also in the Old Town is an interesting museum of fine arts, which contains works of art of the 16th-20th centuries.

To the east stretches the Paseo de Pereda, surrounded by parks and traditional coastal houses with glazed balconies. Here you will see the building of the Bank of Santander, the El Embarcadero Palace, the Festival Palace, the Archaeological Museum with a rich collection of the Paleolithic, the Maritime Museum, Plaza Porticada and Pombo and the fishing port.

The promenade rests on the 200-meter Los Peligros beach (Playa de los Peligros), where the sailing club operates. The club offers tourists the rental of yachts, kayaks and windsurfing boards.

Further on, the La Mangdalena peninsula extends. Its main attraction is the Magdalena Palace. It was built in 1913 under King Alfonso XIII as a summer residence. The palace is made in the English style and is surrounded by a vast park. In addition, the peninsula has a beach, a lighthouse, a mini-zoo and three ships of the famous Cantabrian navigator Vital Alsar. A tourist train runs around the peninsula.

Behind the peninsula, on the shore of a cozy bay, El Sardinero Beach (Playa de El Sardinero) stretches. This is the most famous beach in the region and one of the most beautiful beaches in Spain.. Its length is 1300 m. The beach has a developed infrastructure: there are sunbeds and umbrellas for rent, showers, changing cabins, toilets, bars, restaurants and hotels. A wide promenade stretches along the beach, on which the Casino building, Italy Square and Pikuyo Park are located. Opposite the beach of El Sardinero in the sea is the island of Mauro, on which a lighthouse rises. Cozy beaches of Matalenas (Playa de Matalenas), Camello (Playa del Camello) and La Concha (Play de la Concha) are adjacent to El Sardinero, and on the western outskirts of Santander there is a popular Virgen del Mar beach (Playa Virgen del Mar), which got its name from the nearby chapel. It is also worth visiting the picturesque Langre beach (Playa de Langre), surrounded by rocks, which is located 20 km east of Santander.

25 km south of Santander, the town of Puente Viesgo is interesting, famous for its thermal springs and caves with prehistoric animal images.

Also in the vicinity of Santander it is worth visiting the Dunas de Liencres natural park . It is located about 10 km to the west on the coast at the mouth of the Pas River. The park covers an area of 194 hectares. One of the most significant dune complexes of the Cantabrian coast of Spain is located here.. Sand dunes, which are constantly changing their shape under the influence of the wind, are adjacent to seaside pines, which gives the area a special flavor. In addition, the park is a habitat for many migratory birds during their migration.

To the west along the coast is the resort town of Suances, whose beaches are La Concha (Playa de La Concha), La Tablia (Playa de La Tablia), Mirador (Playa del Mirador), Los Locos (Playa de Los Locos), La Ribera (La Ribera) and La Riberuca (La Riberuca) are very popular among tourists, as they have a developed infrastructure. Los Locos Beach is also famous among surfers for its waves.

A few kilometers south of Suances, surrounded by spurs of the Cantabrian mountains, is the second largest city in Cantabria – Torrelavega. It is known for the annual colorful festival of the Holy Virgin Grande, dedicated to the patroness of the city, which is held in mid-August. Palaces and mansions of the 17th-19th centuries have also been preserved here.

Northwest of Torrelavega (25 km west of Santander), a few kilometers from the coast is the city of Santillana del Mar (Santillana del Mar). Often it is called the “city of three delusions”, because the literal translation of the name is not true: it has never been sacred (“santo”), flat (“lyana”) and never located on the seashore (“mar”). The name of the city comes from the name of St. Juliana, whose remains rest in the Romanesque church, which has survived to this day, founded by Augustinian monks in the 12th century. The Church of Santa Juliana is considered one of the largest Romanesque churches on the entire Biscay coast. In the vicinity of the church, on cobbled streets, there are houses of wealthy families of the 17th century, made in the Renaissance and Baroque styles. Also in Santillana del Mar, it is worth visiting the zoo, where animals from 5 continents are collected.

(Altamira cave) with a length of 270 m, which is known as the “Sistine Chapel of the Paleolithic”, and is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Altamira Cave is the most popular archaeological site in all of Spain. Numerous images of bison, deer, horses, goats and wild boars, applied with natural colors (ochre, coal, clay, etc.) about 14 thousand years ago, have been preserved on its walls. The uniqueness of these images lies in the fact that natural cracks and unevenness of the cave walls serve as the contours of animals, which creates the effect of three-dimensionality. In the second half of the 20th century, the number of visitors began to reach 1500 people a day, the increased concentration of carbon dioxide and artificial lighting began to harm the drawings. Then the Spanish authorities decided to ban tourists from entering the cave. However, for everyone who wants to see the unique prehistoric painting, there is still such an opportunity. At the entrance to the cave of Altamira, a museum complex was opened, where copies of Altamira’s drawings and copies of prehistoric images found throughout the country were created.

A little to the west along the coast is the city of Comillas. (Comillas), known for its Art Nouveau buildings of the late 19th century, which were commissioned by the Marquis Antonio López by the best Spanish architects. Here is one of the most famous architectural structures of the Catalan architect Antonio Gaudí – the El Capriccio mansion. The building has a fabulous look: neo-Gothic style and elements of oriental ornament “arabesque” are mixed in it. The mansion is clad in brick and multicolored ceramic tiles depicting bright yellow sunflowers. Today it houses a restaurant. Also in Comillas are interesting the Sobrellano Palace, made in the neo-Gothic style, the complex of the Pontifical University, the Capilla Pantheon church. An excellent sandy beach (Playa de Comillas) stretches along the city coast, where you can have a great rest.

10 km west of Comillas, near the border with the autonomous region of Asturias, is the city of San Vincente de la Barquera. It is located on the banks of the estuary formed at the confluence of the San Vicente River into the Bay of Biscay. The hallmark of the city is the Puente de la Maza (15th century) with 28 arches, which spans the estuary and leads to the Old Town. In the Old Town, the remains of the fortifications and the castle of the 15th century and the Gothic church of Santa Maria de los Angeles of the 13th century have been preserved. Between Comillas and San Vincente de la Barquera stretch the beaches of Oyambre (Playa de Oyambre) with campsites, Meron (Playa de Meron) and Rosal (Playa del Rosal). They are located on the territory of the Oyambre Natural Park. (Oyambre nature park), which is designed to protect coastal sand dunes, cliffs reaching heights of 50 m, river estuaries and wetlands where many birds live. These beaches are especially popular among tourists, because while relaxing here, you can simultaneously admire the vast expanses of the Bay of Biscay and the snow-capped peaks of the Cantabrian Mountains, protected by the vast Picos de Europa National Park. The park covers an area of 650 sq. km and is located on the territory of three autonomous regions: Cantabria, Asturias and Castile-Leon. The starting point for trips to the Picos de Europa National Park in Cantabria is the town of Potes.

Santander, Cantabria (Spain)