Santillana del Mar is one of the towns with the greatest historical and artistic value in Spain. The reason? Its monuments and in its vicinity are the caves of Altamira. There is much to see in Santillana del Mar, one of the most attractive places in Cantabria and one of its main focuses of tourist attraction. Do you want to meet him? Here we go!
Some curiosities about Santillana del MarCasas del Águila y la Parra - Fernando Jiménez / Flickr.com
Since 2013 Santillana del Mar is part of the network of most beautiful villages in Spain. Further, It is popularly known as "the villa of the three lies" being neither "holy," nor "flat" nor having "sea."
The main activity to which this municipality is dedicated is tourism. In fact, the town was declared a historical-artistic complex in 1889. For something it is one of the most important places in the region, not only because of the Altamira caves, but also its historical center. It also has a botanical garden and a zoo and museums.
What there is what to see in Santillana del Mar
Here are some of the things to see in Santillana del Mar, although we already recommend that you walk quietly through the villa and discover each of its corners.
1. The caves of AltamiraReproduction of the caves of Altamira, Spain - MatthiasKabel / commons.wikimedia.org
The caves of Altamira are described as «the Sistine Chapel» of rock art. Inside there are various paintings and engravings that lead us to think that these are paintings made at different times. The most famous paintings are polychromes painted on the ceiling, dated to the Paleolithic.
These caves were declared a World Heritage Site in 1985. His discovery came a century earlier, in 1879, eleven years after the cave was found. For a time the caves were closed to tourist visits, for fear of a possible deterioration of the paintings, and today only a lucky few can admire them.
However, very close you can visit the Altamira Museum, where there is an exact replica and where you can know almost everything about this fabulous place. Of course, it is one of the places to see in Santillana del Mar.
«After Altamira all art seems decadent.»
2. A walk through the historic center of Santillana del MarSantillana del Mar - canduela / Flickr.com
Virtually the entire municipality is the historic center. It is organized around two main streets (Juan Infante and Santo Domingo). Each of them goes to a square. The streets are cobbled and the stone buildings, dated between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries. Many of its basses have become stores where you can buy typical Cantabria products: anchovies, picón cheese, cecina or sobaos.
The Plaza de la Carrera is one of the first in the town. When the population in the municipality increased, a second place had to be built, that of Ramón Pelayo. In the streets that converge in them were built hamlets of the nobility, as the house of the Eagle and the Parra, the one of the Quevedo and the one of Leonor de la Vega, among others.
To fully enjoy this place, We recommend you to take a walk through the town and make some purchases of products of the Cantabrian gastronomy. Or also try milk with sponge cake, the popular snack of the municipality. You will not regret.
3. Visit the collegiate church of Santa JulianaCollegiate Church of Santa Juliana - canduela / Flickr.com
It is one of the most representative Romanesque art monuments in the region, declared a national monument in 1889. The Camino de Santiago del Norte passes through it. It is a church with three naves of four sections, a dome, three apses and a tower.
Its origins are very old, because it is said that the young Juliana was martyred in Turkey during the third century and his remains came to the Kingdom of Asturias in the ninth century. In his memory, a hermitage was built, and later the constructions began to turn it into one of the most important temples of Cantabria.
4. Know the towers of Merino and Don BorjaDon Borja Tower -zarateman /commons.wikimedia.org
They are located in the square of Ramón Pelayo. The Merino tower is a Gothic stone construction built during the 13th and 15th centuries. It is thought that it was built as a residence of the merino, a kind of judge that resolved territorial conflicts. Currently the tower is restored and inside it houses a museum.
As to the tower of Don Borja, is the current town hall of the town, and a monument declared historical-artistic set. It is also of medieval origin. Square, has a patio and an arch at the entrance. Like the Merino tower, it has been restored and is currently the headquarters of the Santillana foundation.
5. Approach Velarde PalaceVelarde Palace - Margavela / Flickr.com
Also called Palacio de las Arenas, it is located in a square of the same name. It was built during the 16th century, so its architecture is Renaissance. It was built for Alonso Velarde, a young man from an important family in the municipality. It has been passed from generation to generation until it was finally sold to a doctor.
These are the essential places to see in Santillana del Mar. A town full of history that offers you a wonderful trip to the past. Without forgetting, of course, its delicious cuisine.
Cover photo: Jose Javier Martin Espartosa