Santander is a bustling port city, and its beaches are the highlight of Cantabria. Due to a fire in 1941, there is not much left of the old city, but bars and restaurants are in abundance. Transport links to the city are good, with train, bus and ferry links, and these three stations are all located in the southwest part of the central district.
Santander was called Portus Victoriae when the Romans came here in 21 BC. They had taken over the city in 2 years from Cantabrian tribes. Santander changed, and kept its name from this time onwards. It was a busy port for many years, and became famous when King Alfonso XIII took his summer holidays here in the 1900’s. A palace was built for him on the Peninsula de la Magdalena. Due to this, it quickly became hugely popular amongst locals to visit, and many buildings in the belle époque style were constructed.
Monuments of Santander
The most famous monument of all is the cathedral in the Plaza del Obispo Eguino which is made up of two gothic churches, one above the other. The upper church was reconstructed after the fire in 1941. In the lower church you are able to discover excavated parts of Roman Santander. There are two main museums in Santander, the first, the Prehistoric and Archaeological Museum (Calle de Casimiro Sainz) houses a small collection of copies of cave paintings and roman relics. The second is the Cantabrian Maritime museum (Calle San Martin de Bajamar) which was renovated in 2003 and is on 4 floors. It includes an aquarium and has a deep history of navigation in Cantabria. If you prefer a gentle walk in the park, head to the Peninsula de la Magdalena.
There is plenty of surfing to be done along El Sardinero, and opposite in Playa del Somo. In Santander itself, there are plenty of surf shops and a surf school on Calle de Cadiz. Semana Grande, a big summer festival takes place in the last week of July.