Valles Pasiegos, Cantabria’s green treasure

In the heart of Cantabria, the Valles Pasiegos are one of the most spectacular places to visit. A perfect combination of man and nature that explains, in part, why it is a paradise for lovers of rural tourism. The valleys are divided into three: the Miera, the Pas and the Pisueña. Mountains, trails, rivers, charming cabins and a great environmental wealth. This, together with the Pasiego culture and their peculiar way of life, make them a unique destination. Best of all, they can be seen in three days.

Three-day route through the Valles Pasiegos

Starting in the Miera valley, the most authentic Cantabria

The Miera Valley is the narrowest of the three, located a short distance from Santander. It stands out for its karst and limestone landscapes with a glacial origin, together with its picturesque typical houses. Travelling through this beautiful spot is to discover a classic morphology of glaciers, and it is possible to clearly contemplate the cirques and moraines.

It stands out for its rich cultural heritage, which is divided into the Pasiego culture, with numerous huts, river mills and trails that run through the nature of the valley, as well as the typical architecture, especially the Historic-Artistic Site of Liérganes. The first stop in the valley begins in Pámanes, to discover the beautiful 18th century Elsedo Palace, one of the most impressive Baroque constructions in the region. Some of its rooms are open to the public and it houses exhibitions of modern art works by prestigious artists such as Chillida, María Blanchard and Pablo Serrano.

Pasiegos Valleys

Surroundings of the Valles Pasiegos in Cantabria. | Shutterstock

Lérganes is 6 kilometres away, one of the most important tourist attractions in the Valles Pasiegos. It is considered one of the most beautiful medieval villages in Cantabria, located in a unique natural environment and known for its charming houses with balconies full of flowers. One of the best experiences here is to wander through the narrow cobbled streets of the old town, known as the Mercadillo district. Nestled here are several mansions of classicist architecture, such as the Langre house, the Setíen mansion or the house of the Cañones.

One of its most outstanding monuments is the Mayor bridge, known as the Roman bridge, located over the river Miera and connecting the El Calgar neighbourhood with the old town. In addition to its impressive architecture, it offers one of the best panoramic views with the Marimón and Cotillamón peaks in the background. One of the most spectacular spots of the valleys.

Pasiegos Valleys

A view of the Valles Pasiegos. | Shutterstock

Under the bridge is the statue of the Fish Man, a legendary being from the mythology of Cantabria. The best place to learn more about this legend is the Fish Man Interpretation Centre, located in an old flour mill dating from 1667. To end the day, visit the Gothic church of San Pantaleón, which still preserves Romanesque features and two Baroque altarpieces. Next to the church is a swing with the best views of the village. The ideal place to watch the sunset.

Pisueña Valley, home to Cabárceno Park

The Pisueña Valley is home to the popular Cabárceno Nature Park, a place where you can see animals in semi-freedom. It is noted for housing animals from all five continents, including elephants, giraffes, cheetahs and bears. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Cantabria. This park can be visited in a full day, but also in the morning or afternoon. The most suitable option if you want to enjoy the rest of the day visiting other places in the Pisueña Valley in the Valles Pasiegos is to choose the half-day ticket.

Cabárceno Nature Park

Cabárceno Nature Park. | Shutterstock

After visiting the Cabárceno park, you can take a simple hiking route to the source of the Pisueña river, which starts in a village of the same name. Just 30 minutes by car from the park, a signposted trail suitable for all ages, which allows you to discover the landscapes of the area and some of the typical constructions of the valleys.

Pisueña Valley

Villacarriedo, Pisueña Valley. |Shutterstock

During the walk it is possible to contemplate the unique balance between the Pasiego huts for the use of the livestock farmers in the area and the oak and beech trees that give shape to the peculiar landscape. To end the day, it is worth visiting the village of Villacarriedo, known for its majestic historic-artistic site. From the Baroque palace of Soñanes, the school of the Padres Escolapios, the charming mountain houses and its small churches that have stood the test of time.

Villages with a unique charm in the Pas Valley

The village of Vega de Pas is one of the ‘three Pasiego villages’, together with San Pedro del Romeral and San Roque de Riomiera. It is a charming village built in medieval times. Its square stands out, where you can see the typical houses of the area, with wooden balconies and stone façades that give the place a picture postcard image. Among its most significant monuments are the parish church and the Doctor Madrazo sanatorium.

Pas Valley

Puente Viesgo, Pas Valley. | Shutterstock

On the way to Puente Viesgo it is worth making a stop to visit the Hombre y Campo museum in San Vicente de Toranzo. It has a large exhibition of objects related to peasant life and traditional activities in the area.

A 30-minute drive away is Viesgo bridge, one of the obligatory stops on any route through the Valles Pasiegos. Here you will find one of the most important prehistoric cave complexes showing Palaeolithic art. The caves it houses are known as: El Castillo, Las Chimeneas, Las Monedas and La Pasiega. The village is also known for its famous spa that takes advantage of the medicinal waters of the spring.

The Valles Pasiegos are a real treasure in the province of Cantabria. Located just a few metres from Santander, you can enjoy a unique natural setting and discover the peculiar Pasiego culture.

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