Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Cantabria – Santillana del Mar

Cantabria is a region that lies between Asturias and the Basque Country. On our way home from San Sebastian we stopped here to look at two places. We didn’t have much time, in fact we only had one hour to look around in Santillana del Mar. The reason I wanted to stop here is because I was told that this is the prettiest Cantabrian village. Although I didn’t have the chance to see many Cantabrian villages I am inclined to believe this statement.

This picturesque village is a whole open air museum with its winding, cobbled streets and yellow sandstone buildings. It feels like walking around in a medieval village, especially because it can only be visited on foot. Here every single house is a monument.

The place is often called ‘The Town of Three Lies’ as it is nothing to do with a saint (santa), nor flat (llana) and is not even at the sea (del mar), as the name suggests. The truth is that the name originates from the town’s church, Santa Juliana (Santa Llana), whose remains can be visited in the Colegiata, which is a Romanesque church and former monastery. The historical town developed around this church and its lovely cloister, although the majority of the houses were built between the 14th and the 17th century.

I was wondering around in a daze looking from one gorgeous medieval building to another. It is a very special feeling – as long as you can ignore the fact that on the ground floor of every single building is a souvenir shop that tries to sell you everything you can think of. Unfortunately the place has become a tourist trap and the amount of tourists really detracts from the experience.

Nevertheless I am very happy that I was able to visit the town even for such a short time. Santillana del Mar is definitely the highlight of the whole Cantabrian region.

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