Santander, capital of Cantabria, a modern and cosmopolitan city owns privileged surroundings. The city offers alternatives for every taste, being active and peaceful at the same time -it meets all the requirements for you to enjoy your stay. In Santander you can find a great number of beautiful landscapes, such as the Mataleñas and la Magdalena parks, and other areas filled with charm and historic remembrances: El Sardinero, the Paseo Pereda and Castelar, listed as historic and artistic heritage. A great number of tourists visit the magnificent beaches: El Sardinero, La Magdalena and Virgen del Mar stand out among them. Its privileged geographic location makes it the main tourist centre in the region. Both coasts border on the Parque de la Naturaleza de Cabárceno with a quick way out to the interior thanks to its excellent networks.
We would like to thank the Santander City Council for the texts and photographs provided.
Pictures by Manuel Álvarez.
Sculptures of the "Raqueros" (Beachcombers)
Puertochico, once the city port, is today the marina where the Real Club Marítimo is located. Along its promenade you can find some sculptures dedicated to the Raqueros (children who long ago searched the seashore for wreckage). The raqueros were the children who lived close to the Santander wharves and were well-known as petty delinquents. José Cobo is the sculptor responsible for this work. He used the Bronze technique. Size of the sculptures: 60 inches x 263 inches x 87 inches.
Palace of La Magdalena
This Palace is located on the Magdalena Peninsula. Built between 1909 and 1911 to house the Royal Spanish family. Designed by architects Javier González Riancho and Gonzalo Bringas Vega and furnished in 1913. It immediately became King Alfonso XIII and his family's summer residence. They visited it regularly until the II Republic was proclaimed.
Javier González Riancho designed the stables in 1914. They imitate a medieval English town with sharp-ended, steep-slopped roofs, and wooden structures. The style is eclectic and combines English influences that can be seen in the outer structure, the abundance of chimneys, the shape of the windows, with French style contributions such as the double-flight main staircase, the asymmetry of the buildings, and some characteristic regional touches.
It has two entrances, one on the North for carriages, with a porch, and the other one on the South, the main entrance with two octagonal turrets and a main double-flight staircase. The building is made of rubblework stone with slate coverings. Inside the building the reception halls stand out -they keep some paintings of interest by Benedito, Sorolla, Sotomayor, etc. Since 1932, the Palace houses the Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo. In 1993 it was refurbished by the Santander Town Hall according to a project by Luis de la Fuente.
Jardines de Pereda (Pereda Gardens)
Located between the Muelle Calderón and the Paseo de Pereda. In the 19th century it was a port wharf but afterwards it was filled up in order to extend to the sea. In 1902 the enlargement of the area was completed and the trapezoid-shaped gardens were designed starting from 15 Paseo de Pereda to Puerto Chico.
Species donated by the neighbors were planted. In 1911 the sculptures on Don José Mª de Pereda’s honour and bearing his name were placed. There you can find magnolias, ashes, horse chestnuts, Canarian palm tress, pines, cypresses, birches, yew trees, big lindens, a majestic ginkgo, etc.
On the way to the Paseo de Pereda you can find a row of plane trees ending at the so called "Fuente de los Meones" (Wetters’ Fountain), also donated by a private citizen. Magnolias and palm trees groves shelter the monuments dedicated to illustrious citizens of Cantabria. When crossing these beautiful gardens, we come across the Banco de Santander, a symbol of the importance of this city within the Spanish bank.
Jardines de Piquío (Piquío Gardens)
By 1925, a reform of the small cliff parting the two beaches of El Sardinero was undertaken in a way that during the second decade of the 20th century the Piquio gardens were created. The beautiful arrangement of Canarian palm trees and the pergola decorated with lush tamarisks stand out.
There is a charming viewpoint surrounded by pergolas that provide a resting place for relaxing. Likewise, the garden enclosure is coloured by the great variety of flowers. Two species are worthy of mention -the blue eucalyptus (on the Avenida de Castañeda having over 4 meters diameter) and the elm, towering over 2 meters high in the garden area.
The Christ's Crypt
The Christ’s Crypt was built in the 13th century in a pure Gothic style. This is the oldest building in Santander. It can be reached through a vaulted porch in which two doors lay open. The main door is a pointed arch with archivolts supported by austere capitals with plant motifs. The other door is rarely used and was hidden for a long time.
The crypt, as such, is small and short -31 meters (102 feet) long and 18 meters (59 feet) wide, divided into three naves. Here the Saint Martyrs’ remains lie, an appropriate place since their first burial place was in the hermitage built beside the Roman governor's palace in Portus Victoriae. These ruins were discovered during the church's reconstruction works.
The silver Baroque-styled heads in which they were kept are now in the Diocesan Museum of Santillana. Besides these relics, a fragment of the Holy Cross and a relic from Saint Germain's arm are also kept in the Christ’s Crypt.
The Cathedral was built in the 14th century on part of the Crypt’s terrain. It does not look like the great Spanish Gothic cathedrals due to the constant modifications and catastrophes it suffered (such as the 1941 fire) so that most of the original work was lost. All the exterior was rebuilt, the prismatic tower (the oldest one), the apses, the octagonal lantern, the façade. Despite this, it keeps its Gothic appearance with its three naves, the central one higher and wider, and separated by high pillars with eight columns.
The lying sculpture of don Pedro Camus from 1599 and don Marcelino Menéndez Pelayo's tomb stand out. A strange Arabian font for ablutions in white marble is kept. Tradition holds that it was taken from Cordoba, others guess it was taken by some native of Santander while returning from the conquest of Seville.
The entrance to the cathedral is through the cloister, that is to say, through the main door on the southern wall that still maintains Gothic traces with pointed arches, the exterior is all covered with trimming borders. There are no sculptures and the tympanum and jams were rebuilt probably in the 17th century. The cathedral’s cloister encompasses a extensive rectangular area framed by four covered wings. Each wing is divided into five sections covered with lancet arches. It seems that the cloister was built once the church was completed, that is to say, at the beginning of the 15th century and it was used both for the monks’ cemetery (who occupied the garden) and the villagers who were buried in the South and East wings.
Along the wings of the cloister, as a way of exhibition, you can fin some stone and wooden sculptures. There are also some sepulchers, among them one dating from 1249 with a intertwined covering, a Romanesque touch and rose windows. On the East wing, there is a sarcophagus’ cover featuring a lying man dating from the 15th century, placed on six lions.
La Compañía Church
The Renaissance period left its traces in Santander, on buildings such as the La Compañía Church or the Santa Cruz Convent. The first one was part of the school of the Society of Jesus (Compañía de Jesús) and is the best example of Renaissance architecture in the region.
Palace of Pronillo
The Palace of Pronillo belonged to the Riva-Herrera family and is located in the Garden-city. It is one of those stately and historical buildings that can be found in the city, though almost nothing is conserved. Part of the walled fence and battlement surrounding the tower-house and its main door with a coat of arms can still be observed. The house keeps only part of the walls and the chapel with its lancet vault. This monument was built in the 16th century and the tower had three floors with angular cylindrical sentry boxes. The Riva-Herrera family was important not only in Cantabria but also in the early American history.
Hospital de San Rafael
The Hospital de San Rafael, built in 1791, was restored some years ago to seat the Regional Government of Cantabria. It is one of the more elegant, stately buildings in the city. With Neoclassic resemblance, it is located in one of the highest areas of the city, looking at the bay. The North façade shows a portico with nine semicircular arches separated by Tuscan columns and its cloister is worthy of mention.
It is the most important and expensive area of the city. It became famous and attracted tourists because it was queen Isabella II and Amadeo of Saboy’s favourite summer resort. This caused a great cultural and architectural movement. Cafés, hotels, and tramways were constructed. Among them the Hotel Real was built. It opened up in the 1917 summer. A big, Modernist styled building located in a privileged spot with a view to Plaza del Sardinero.