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.
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.
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.