Santander is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain. Capital of Cantabria, it is, next to San Sebastían, one of the classic summer cities since the last century.
The history of his name, which comes from the Middle Ages, is curious. The name Santander is mostly considered to come from Portus Sanctorum Emeteri et Celedoni. From Sant Emeteri he evolved to Sant Endere and finally to Santander. In 1255 King Alfonso X the Wise already referred to the place as the village of Sant Ander.
But let’s go through the present day. Its wonderful beach of El Sardinero, divided in two by a small protrusion of land, has a fine golden sand and is surrounded by hotels and stately buildings, among which stands out one of the best and most luxurious hotels in the North of Spain, the Hotel Real. At one end, at the beginning of the walk that will take us to the beach, is the Magdalena Palace, the summer place of the kings in ancient times and today converted the headquarters in which the famous summer courses of Santander take place, where for years the most important intellectuals, authors and academics of the world have gathered.
Santander is an old and new city at the same time, since it was partially destroyed by a tortuous fire in 1941. However, the whole devastated part was rebuilt with the greatest success while preserving its architecture.
It is important to note, for its beauty, the Port, which is in the very center of the city, a few meters from the famous Paseo de Pereda, which bears the name of the distinguished writer of the Santeranderino Jose Maria de Pereda. Just at the beginning is the Cathedral Church, Our Lady of the Assumption, a singular building with an abbey appearance, built on the ruins of a primitive monastery.
Santander breathes culture on the four sides, as it is a city with numerous museums and cultural spaces and is also an eminently maritime city that counts in the vicinity also with wonderful beaches, like that of Mataleña or something more distant, that of Suances.
The landscape of the outskirts, combining the green of the mountain with the sea that bathes its shores is one of the most beautiful of the so-called Cantabrian cornice. A nearby town of unique beauty and typism, with important fishing gastronomy is the wonderful village of San Vicente de la Barquera, our great recommendation from for a trip outside the capital.
But let’s go back to urban Santander. The first impression is that it is a somewhat elitist city, but nothing further from reality. Apart from visiting its museums and splendid coastal and inland landscapes, you can have a great time and keep memories that cannot be lost. The Bay of Santander is certainly one of the most beautiful in Europe, but a land walk through its streets and corners will make us happy.
The most typical neighborhood is Puertochico and there you will find, in addition to magnificent restaurants, bars and taverns with skewers that have nothing to envy of those of its Basque neighbors. Santanderina gastronomy is one of the best in Spain. The streets not to be lost but if to get lost are around the Plaza de Cañadío. It’s not a very large city, but it’s not small either. Its nearly two hundred thousand inhabitants are very well distributed. And a curiosity that few know: Santander has a small funicular to reach a place that is mandatory to know: the Mirador del Rio de la Pila, with beautiful views over the capital.
Another emblematic place is the Cape Mayor Lighthouse, further away from the strict perimeter of the city, which is in the Park of the same name and from which you can see splendid views of the Cantabrian.
And returning to the cultural aspects of interest to the visitor we would recommend the Museum of Prehistory and Archaeology and the Maritime Museum, which captures the history of a mythical sea and its fishing life.Also the Botín Center is a place with important works of Modern Art.
Santander is a place that has everything. Sea and mountain, rugged landscapes and manicured gardens, streets and novel buildings and, above all, it is one of the most charactery cities in Europe. A surprising place that gives much more than the traveller expects through the information of a simple tourist guide.