Santander, on the north coast of Spain, is famous for its vast stretches of beaches. When a summer palace was built here for King Alfonso XIII in 1912, it sealed the town’s reputation as a popular summer retreat.
Capital of Cantabria
Santander is a port city and capital of Cantabria. It is quite a wealthy city with wine, olive oil and other Spanish produce being exported to Europe through Santander. Although Santander was an important city for the Romans, they never managed to Romanize the area so there aren’t any Roman monuments to see here. The city’s Code of Arms bears two heads and a sail boat. According to a legend, the heads of two matyrs (Sant Emeterius and Celedonius) were brought here in the 3rd century. The name of the city is believed to be derived from the name of Sant Emeterius.
Because of the climate and the natural beauty of the Cantabrian region, royalty and the wealthy started coming to Santander until a large fire in 1941 destroyed the whole city. Many of the older buildings were destroyed and most of what you see today were rebuilt after the fire.
Santander has a modern town centre and the city is the headquarters of Banco Santander. Although there are museums and a few sights to see in this town, the beach is its main attraction. On the southern side of the headland is Playa de la Magdalena with a watersports centre and Playa del Bikini is good for snorkelling. However El Sardinero on the north of the headland, with its fine white sand, is the most popular of the Santander beaches. El Sardinero is made up of two beaches. In the past, the Playa Primera del Sardinero (first beach) was for the nobility and upper classes, and the second beach was for everyone else.
Things to See and Do
- There are plenty of limestone caves in the mountains in Cantabria. The most important and oldest cave is the Chain of Altamira with its cave paintings. The town’s Museo de Prehistoria y Arqueologia contains finds from the Altamira caves and Puente Viesgo.
- For a change of scenery from the beach, there is a red sightseeing bus that takes visitors around the sights of Santander.
- In the town centre is the huge Gran Casino which must be doing well as there is a new hotel built in front of it.
Hotels in Santander
There is a good range of hotels with Santander Bay and El Sardinero Beach views such as the palace-style Hotel Real, the Santemar and the Hotel Bahia. For the complete list of Santander hotels see Here.
By Plane – Both Ryanair and Iberia have flights to Santander Airport
By Ferry – Brittany Ferries have two weekly services to Plymouth and Portsmouth. See www.britany-ferries.co.uk/
Map of Santander: