Once protected by Saint Emetorio, this bay is one of the most beautiful in the world. In the 11th century it was named Portus Victorae by the Romans, today with its Latin origins left behind it is now more commonly known as Santander the only northern city in Spain where the coastline faces south.
The city has been divided over the years in three principal eras, once it was an important fishing industry, which, by walking around the ports this part of its history is still obviously evident. Then came the industrial era when in the 18th and 19th century Santander became the main port for trading merchandise on its way to the American colonies and nowadays as could be expected is the tourist era.
Obvious to all who visit that this city now thrives on being an example to the rest of Spain. At the end of the 19th century with the arrival of the Kings of Spain and the construction of the Balneario del Sardinero, Santander became one of the main tourist destinations of the country.
There are still examples today of the landmarks erected in this era, one of which, the obvious maritime walkway the first of its kind in Spain, along with others such as the Hotel Sardinero, the Rhin and the thermal baths of the Sardinero.
Iglesia Catedral Nuestra Señora de la Asunción: Originally home to the monks it passed on as a place of worship and cathedral in the 18th century. This building, which is built in the form of three ships, hence the three distinctly designed domes, now holds the Mausoleum of Menendez Pelayo.
El Gran Casino: One of the city’s most emblematic buildings and once home to a variety of parties for the aristocracy this casino, built in the 19th century on the beach of El Sardinero in the Plaza de Italia has had an interesting history. Today’s structure was erected in 1916 but remained closed for many years after the Spanish civil war. It was restored in the 70’s but still conserves some of its neo-classic origins with just a hint of modernism.
Address: Plaza de Italia
Plaza Porticada: During the last remodel of the square, otherwise known as Plaza de Velarde, remains of the ancient medieval city walls where found. However this square, built after the fire that destroyed most of the city, is more famous as the scene of the International Festival Of Music.
Palacio de la Magadalena: For years the Royal residency, this palace built with a strong French and English influence is the work of the architects Riancho and Bringas. Situated in one of the more beautiful parts of the city it is now home to the famous summer courses run by the University Menendez Pelayo. The palaces park is the most famous and emblematic of the city.
Address: Palacio Real de La Magdalena
Mercado del Este: With the oncoming pressure of the rise of the city and its commercial progress at the end of the 19th century, Don Antonio Zabaleta was enlisted to design a new style of market place which could be run and controlled in a orderly manner. By doing so, Mr Zabaleta designed a city within the city, which became, more or less as we have become to know it today as a shopping centre. Stalls and “streets” layed out in such a way that business could be done in a more efficient manner. So successful was the design that it is still in used today albeit with a more modern offering of stores and restaurants.
Address: Calle Hernán Cortés, 4
Museo Oceonográfico: First built in 1978 and later extended at the end of the nineties this museum is home to more than 2000 creatures belonging to 250 different marine species. Once inside the museum you get the chance to walk into the glass covered patio, here you’ll find yourself surrounded by marine skeletons of all shapes and sizes one of which happens to be 9 metres long.