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Santillana del Mar

Since the Middle Ages

Santillana Del Mar is a medieval town of stone-paved streets. It is designated heritage site, and has been one of Cantabria`s best-known cultural and tourist centres for decades.

Since the Middle Ages, Santillana del Mar has been one of the region`s most important towns. It was the capital of the old “Asturias de Santillana”, a merindad- medieval jurisdiction- comprising the territory of present-day Cantabria.

The human imprint here is far early, however, and goes back thousands of years: the world-famous Altamira caves are just two kilometres from the centre of the village.

Fully fledge Romanesque

Santillana is endowed with an outstanding architectural heritage. Of the religious buildings, the centre-piece is the Colegiata de Santa Juliana, around which the medieval town grew.

The first monastery was founded here in the eighth to ninth century and housed the relics of St Juliana- the root of the name “Santillana”. Around the twelfth century the monastery became a collegiate church ( Colegiata ) and from them on the town’s most powerful families vied to enlarge and develop it. Most of the church is fully fledge Romanesque, with the Renaissance and Baroque additions.

Takes you back to times gone by

Among the lay architecture, the standouts are the “Torres (towers) of Don Borja and Merino or Velarde, both being fifteenth-century; and then the Pereda-Barreda palace, the Villa palace and the Bustamante palace, all built in the eighteenth century.

The town’s powerful attraction isn’t just its landmark buildings, though. It’s the place as a whole, with all its more modest buildings- all of them are period architecture. Santillana’s wonderful townscape takes you back to times gone by.

Centuries of history

Beside the architecture, there is a wealth of things to see and do at the town’s many temporary exhibitions and art-centre activities, all year round. There is also a wide range of available accommodation and hotels for all tastes; establishments tend to be small or medium, and are very often housed in old buildings that contain centuries of history within their walls.

A visit to Santillana del Mar should star or finish with the Altamira Museum, next to the original cave.


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