San Vicente de la Barquera

The longest bridge over the marsh

This Cantabrian town is located between the Rubín and Pombo estuaries. It enjoys a privileged geographical location, in the heart of the Oyambre Natural Park. A setting that is also crossed by the Northern Way to Santiago. Are you ready to enjoy everything there is to see in San Vicente de la Barquera?

Plan your stay in San Vicente de la Barquera

The beautiful seafaring village, located to the northwest of the Cantabrian coast, has everything it takes to be a great vacation spot. This municipality boasts magnificent beaches and marshes. It also has a complete historical centre, with monuments such as the church of Santa María de los Ángeles, the remains of La Muralla, the King’s Castle and several bridges. The tour of what to see in San Vicente de la Barquera can be done in one day.

Very close by is the Oyambre Natural Park, which runs from the sea to the Cantabrian mountain. Another option is to get to know the modernist architecture of Comillas. On the other hand, the capital of Cantabria, Santander, is another top-level monumental alternative.

In the specialized pages about sleeping and eating in San Vicente de la Barquera you will find the best establishments and accommodations. In addition, the place is ideal for various active tourism activities in the province of Cantabria.

Do you want to visit this place?

From a tribe to a Roman city

Knowing something of the local history is necessary to fully enjoy what to see in San Vicente de la Barquera. The Cantabrian tribe of the Orgenomescos already had a small port, known as Verasueca, during the Roman occupation. In the middle of the 8th century King Alfonso I the Catholic repopulated and fortified the town again after the barbaric incursions of the Heruls. Later, in 1210, he obtained from Alfonso VIII of Castile the Fuero de San Sebastián, which gave him the exclusive right to fish on a coastal strip. From then on, the town experienced a period of great maritime success.

Many expeditions

Boats from San Vicente de la Barquera participated in expeditions to the island of Newfoundland in search of cod, in the reconquest of Seville and in the Hundred Years’ War. This stage of development would culminate in 1517 with the solemn reception of King Charles I. During his stay in the town he fell ill and had to spend the night in the convent of San Luis. From that moment on, San Vicente would suffer from plague epidemics and numerous fires. These were the main causes of a prolonged decline.

Foto antigua Iglesia de Santa María de los Ángeles de San Vicente de la Barquera
Lugareños de San Vicente y, al fondo, la Iglesia de Santa María de los Ángeles

Fishing town

San Vicente was part of the “corregimiento” of the “Cuatro Villas de la Costa”. In 1779 they would give life to the province of Cantabria, created by the enlightened monarch Charles III. From the maritime splendour of the past, inshore fishing and the canning industry have survived to the present day. On the other hand, the preservation of its buildings and its gastronomic tradition make it a destination for quality tourism.

The visit to what to see in San Vicente de la Barquera is its historic centre. A medieval monumental site with a strong taste of the sea, it was declared an Asset of Cultural Interest in Cantabria in 1987. The place is part of the Lebaniega Route of the Way to Santiago. It is also an essential stop on the most famous Northern Way.

Amazing views

Arriving at the town, through the N-634 road, the panoramic view is impressive with an impressive 28-eye bridge. If the weather is clear, the Picos de Europa will appear in the background. The Puente de la Maza, over the Rubín marsh, was formerly 32. It was built in the 15th century, by order of the Catholic Monarchs. The original wooden bridge was replaced by a new one, which in turn would undergo various modifications until it took on the current structure. A beautiful place to see in San Vicente de la Barquera.

Near the bridge are the ruins of the Convent and Church of San Luis. It is said that the future Emperor Charles V stayed there when he arrived in Spain, after his landing in Tazones (Asturias). It is an old Franciscan monastery, built in the fifteenth century under the patronage of the house of Guevara. There are still remains of the Gothic cloister, the apse and the vaults.

Old Town

Another place to visit in San Vicente de la Barquera is the promenade. With new buildings, it leads to the centre of the town, where narrow staircases give way to the old town or Puebla Vieja. Of late medieval origin, it was extended outside the walls to form the Arrabales de la Mar and Tenerías. At the top of the Puebla Vieja is the most representative and oldest building of the town.

The Church of Santa María de los Ángeles is the best known place to see in San Vicente de la Barquera. Built in the 13th and 14th centuries, it was extended in the following two centuries. It is believed to have been founded in 1210 by Alfonso VIII of Castile following the granting of the Fuero de San Sebastián. It was built in the mountainous Gothic style, probably on the site of a Romanesque church. It has two still Romanesque doorways, south and west, with beautiful iconography.

To the north, a small entrance has a gothic arch. For its part, the bell tower was incorporated in the 19th century. In the interior, organized in three naves with high ogival vaults, the tomb of Inquisitor Antonio del Corro stands out. Probably the work of Juan Bautista Vázquez, it is a real jewel in marble of Spanish Renaissance funerary art. The character is presented lying down, reading placidly.

The connection between the past and the present day

Next to Santa María de los Ángeles are the ruins of the Hospital de la Concepción (15th- 16th century). This refuge for pilgrims on the Way to Santiago connects the past and present of the town. In the surrounding area you can see the remains of the best preserved walled enclosure in the whole of Cantabria. Among the several original gates, the Puerta de Poniente, the one closest to the church, stands out. It was the gate that pilgrims on the Way to Santiago who passed through San Vicente had to go through.

Another emblematic monument to see in San Vicente de la Barquera is the very old Castillo del Rey (8th-13th centuries). It forms part of the town’s wall and was built as a defence against the Norman and Viking invasions. The fortress was used as a prison by order of the Catholic Monarchs, taking advantage of its hermetic structure. Today the building houses a museum of local history, as well as a cultural centre for temporary exhibitions. The collection includes cannons, a medieval illustration of San Vicente de la Barquera , daggers, and manuscripts among other objects.

For its part, the Puerta del Preboste leads to the Casa de la Familia Corro (16th century). This Renaissance building with three balconies, decorated with pilasters and pediments, is currently the headquarters of the Town Hall. The palace was built by the Inquisitor Antonio del Corro to house the poor sick people of the town. The facade, classicist and with plateresque decoration, shows with two coats of arms of its founder.

From the top of the village you can see the Puente Nuevo or Parral Bridge (1799), over the Pombo estuary. The bridge leads to the Barrio de los Pescadores, where the fishing port and the fish market are located. On a small promontory is the 13th-century Hermitage of the Virgen de la Barquera. The temple venerates the image of the Virgen de la Barquera which, according to tradition, arrived at this place in a small empty boat. The miracle made her become the patron saint of San Vicente. After Holy Week, the Fiesta de la Folía is held in her honour.

San Vicente de la Barquera
Hermitage of Virgen de la Barquera

The town has the beach of San Vicente and, in the vicinity, the beach of Merón, 1.5 km long and blue flag. There are also other magnificent sandy beaches in the vicinity. Finally, both in the narrow cobbled streets that start from the square and in the main street, there are small bars, taverns and restaurants. Here you can enjoy excellent fish and seafood in season.

This concludes the tour of what to see in San Vicente de la Barquera. A village that deserves to be among the most beautiful in Cantabria.

Must see

San Vicente de la Barquera
Del Rey Castle
San Vicente de la Barquera
Santa María de los Ángeles en San Vicente de la Barquera

Practical data


43° 23′ 6″ N, 4° 23′ 55″ W


Santander 62 km, Comillas 12 km, Madrid 465 km.


After Puente de la Maza, next to the bus station, on Paseo de La Barquera and on Merón Beach. All of them are free of charge.


15 m.


4344 (2013).

These are the main festivities to be seen in San Vicente de la Barquera. San Vicente (22nd January), La Folía (first or second Sunday after Holy Week). Also, El Carmen (16th July), La Barquera and Mozuco (7th, 8th and 9th September).

Here are some other notable events to see at San Vicente de la Barquera. Livestock Fair and Trawling Competition (around San Vicente, 22 January) and Song Contest (end of July).

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