Santander is a city with more than enough reasons to be visited. Welcoming, modern, cosmopolitan and with an intense and varied cultural life. On this journey through Santander we will travel along its coast, its bay, one of the most beautiful in the world. This city, forever in love with the sea, is built and designed around the Cantabrian Sea. Its many steep streets (pindias for the people of Santander) always lead to the sea. Will you join us?
As it could not be otherwise, we start the journey through Santander in the lighthouse of Cabo Mayor. This place, where the sea and the land meet, offers views that are hard to forget. The immensity of the Cantabrian Sea and the ferocity of its waves, together with the green meadows that you leave behind, make it a magical place. In addition, the lighthouse (which has watched over the bay since 1839), has become a museum. Inside, which we recommend you visit, there are more than 200 paintings and nearly a thousand drawings, watercolours and graffiti by the artist from Santander, Eduardo Sanz, in honour of the different lighthouses in Spain.
From Cabo Mayor you will see how the impressive 30-metre circular stone tower (91 if measured from the sea), is covered by more than one wave that crashes hard. At the foot of the lighthouse there is a restaurant where you can taste the excellent fish and seafood of the area. Or simply have a drink and let yourself be captivated by the views that this journey through Santander offers you.
1,700 metres of fine golden sand that everyone calls El Sardinero to shorten it, as if it were just one beach, when there are five: El Camello, La Concha, Primera y Segunda del Sardinero (the largest) and Molinucos. El Sardinero has a curious fact. It was one of the first beaches in Spain to offer wave baths back in the 19th century; when people only got wet by medical prescription or by accident. At that time, spa towns were becoming very popular throughout Europe, and Santander was joined by San Sebastián and Biarritz. Today the city council revives this period for a few days in July by celebrating the “baños de ola” (wave bath) festival. It can be a good opportunity to do the journey around Santander.
Before reaching the Sardinero beach from Cabo Mayor, which can be reached by a path that runs along the whole coast, we pass by the Mataleñas beach, where there is a golf course of the same name. The curious thing is that it is on the edge of the sea and the player has to be right-handed if he does not want all the balls to end up in the Cantabrian Sea. At the other end of the Sardinero there are the most representative buildings of the area; the Gran Casino Sardinero and the Gran Hotel Sardinero. Both are impressive constructions.
To continue this journey through Santander, from the Sardinero beach we take the Avenida Reina Victoria. We arrive at the peninsula of La Magdalena, the generous gift that the city gave in 1908 to Alfonso XIII. They wanted him to spend the summer in a beautiful palace with an English style and thus please Queen Victoria Eugenie, who was British. The Magdalena Palace is the work of the architects Riancho and Bringas and was built with all kinds of luxury. It has ten bathrooms, an extraordinary figure for the time. After the civil war, the building was ceded by the Royal Family to be used as the summer headquarters of the Menéndez Pelayo International University and finally sold to the City Council for a symbolic amount. The Palace is a mandatory stop on any journey around Santander you can imagine.
Everything in Santander invites you to take a walk and it is not unusual to see walkers, alone or in groups, strolling at a relaxed pace either on the beaches (even in winter) or on the different routes by the sea or by the bay. We continue along Avenida Reina Victoria and walk along the bay on the promenade. There is no hurry: the walk is long but you are on holiday.
One of the first sights we find is the Museo Marítimo del Cantábrico (Cantabrian Maritime Museum). If we continue a few more minutes, the Real Club Marítimo de Santander appears, raised in the water simulating a ship’s bridge. Next to the club is the sculpture Los Raqueros, by the Santander sculptor J. Cobo Calderón. This sculpture, so representative of the city, although it does not seem so, reminds us of a cruel act. Los Raqueros were children of humble origin who threw themselves into the sea to get the coins that the rich, for their amusement, threw at them.
As the end of this journey through Santander and after a twenty minute walk from the Club Marítimo, we will approach the Centro Botín. Since it opened in 2017 it has become one of the main attractions of the city. A very modern building, designed by the internationally prestigious architect Renzo Piano. This art centre has two exhibition halls, an auditorium and a restaurant run by the chef Jesús Sánchez. The contrast between the modernity of the Centro Botín and the nearby old machine known as the stone crane; which has been on the seafront since 1900, is striking.
Centro Botín is made up of two volumes of different sizes supported by columns and partially suspended over the sea. It blends in perfectly with its surroundings and demonstrates the love of the people of Santander for their Cantabrian Sea. In addition, in front of it are the Pereda Gardens, a more than pleasant walk.
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