Pueblos de EspañaSantander (Capital of the province of Cantabria)

What to do and see in the Santander?

Santander is an elegant, cosmopolitan city. It has a population of almost 200,000 inhabitants. The city is built around the bay and beaches. The city is full of historic buildings. The best part of the city to visit are around the port, the beaches, the Península de la Magdalena and the city centre, which is mainly a commercial area. The main street in the centre is Juan de Herrera which goes to Cuatro Caminos (the area with most shops).


In the area around the port known as Muelle de Salmerón, there is a sculpture called the Grúa de Piedra which dates back to 1900; the Palacete del Embarcadero is an old mansion from where you can take a boat trip around the bay in the summer, (Las Reginas, Pº Marítimo, Tel: 942 216 753); los Raqueros - various sculptures grouped together; the Playa del Sardinero, this beach became famous in the 20's when royalty and the jet set spent summers there. There are lots of bars and restaurants with terraces to sit out on in the port area which makes it a great place to soak up the atmosphere. There is a Casino near the port too; Puerto Chico, is what used to be the port but is now the marina where there are also lots of bars and small restaurants, busy during the summer months, where you can eat very good typical fish and seafood dishes. The Paseo de Pereda, a promenade given special historic and artistic status, was designed by an Englishman, Jorge Borrow, in 1837. It is made up of French 18th - 19th century style mansions and goes parallel to the Muelle de Salmerón between Puerto Chico and Las Farolas, where the headquarters of the Santander bank are; the Palacio de Festivales is in the Pereda gardens.






Castles and Palaces in Santander

  • Palacio de la Magadalena: This palace was built in 1912 using public funds and given to Alfonso XIII and Victoria Eugenia who used it as a summer home from 1913 to 1930. It is located within 25 hectares of forests. The Royal quays (el Embarcadero Real), the lighthouse, the exhibition centre, a childrens' playground, a monument commemorating Felix Rodriguez de la Fuente, the Assembley Rooms, the Royal Stables and la Playa del bikini (a beach).

    Nowadays the building is used by the International University of Menédez Pelayo (UIMP) which holds summer courses in literature and Spanish culture and language for foreigners.

  • Palacio de Pronillo: Located in Ciudad Jardín. In the 16th century this Renaissance style palace belonged to the Riva-Herrera family. This family became well known for their participation in the discovery of America.

  • Castillo de San Felipe: This used to be a defensive fort in the middle ages. However, the castle no longer exists. The bank of Spain was built on its remains.

Santander Cathedrals and churches in Santander:

  • Cathedral de la Asunción de la Virgen (in the arched square): Since Roman times it has been reformed several times. In 791, when Santander belonged to the Castilla kingdom, king Alfonso II, built a PreRoman church where the Romans had built their city called Portus Victoriae. In 1187 Alfonso VIII converted it into Roman abbey. In the 8th century the crypt and basilica were built. In the 14th century the Gothic style cathedral was built. It has been a national monument since 1931.
  • Iglesia de la Compañía or Iglesia de la Anunciación (in the arched square): Built by the company of Jesús. Renaissance.
  • Convento de Santa Cruz: Built in 1641. Renaissance.
  • Iglesia de la Consolación: Built in the 15th century. Baroque.
  • Iglesia de Santa Lucia: Renaissance and early Christian, by Antonio de Zabaleta, in 1868.
  • Monasterio de Corbán: Located on the outskirts of the city, built in the 15th century. The church and cloister have been preserved.

Museums in Santander:

  • Museo Municipal de Bellas Artes: This museum has 3 floors of paintings, sculptures, etchings and drawings by contemporary artists from Cantabria. Visitors start their visit on the top floor and work their way down.
  • Casa-Museo Menéndez Pelayo: The writer Menéndez Pelayo and the novelist José Mª de Pereda both helped build this important library which has over 42,00 books in its collection. It was first opened by Alfonso XIII. The house where Menedez Pelayo lived with his family is within the grounds. It contains some of his personal possesions, his bedroom has been preserved. It was given special cultural status in 1982.
  • Museo Marítimo del Cantábrico: This museum is divided into several sections: marine biology, maritime history, maritime technology, the history of fishing in the region...
  • Museo Regional de Prehistoria y Arqueología: This is an exhibition of Prehistoric art from Cantabria, the section on Stoneage art is particularly good.
  • Planetario: This planetarium investigates the sun, the planets, the stars and the heavens.
  • Centro Cultural Modesto Tapia: This is an exhibition centre made up of 2 rooms on 2 floors. The Sardinero room only has exhibitions while the La Bahía room holds workshops as well as exhibitions.
  • Fundación Emilio Botín: This was founded in 1964 for social, educative and cultural events.
  • Fundación Marcelino Botín: This was opened in 2006; It is used as an exhibition centre.

Where to stay in Santander: See hotels in Santander or search for a suitable hotel in the box on the right.

Other useful links
Travel guides to Spain Travel guides to Spain
Guide to Alicante Guide to Almeria
Guide to Avila Guide to Barcelona
Guide to Caceres Guide to Castellon
Guide to Cuenca Guide to Girona
Guide to Guipuzcoa Guide to Lerida
Guide to Murcia Guide to Tarragona
Guide to Valencia Guide to Zamora
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