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Comillas is in the province of Cantabria in the region of Asturias and Cantabria. Comillas is about 50km west of Santander.
Comillas is a very interesting coastal town with cobbled streets, open squares, two good beaches, historic buildings and a selection of Modernista buildings including the incredible El Capricho designed by Anton Gaudi. The town is one of the most beautiful in Cantabria.
The unusual nature of the architecture of this town compared to surrounding towns is due to the return of emigrants who went to America and came back again introducing Catalan Modernism. Notably amongst these was a wealthy businessman who moved to Barcelona on his return from America and was rewarded with the Marquisate of Comillas as thanks for his help in the Cuban conflict.
The Marquis commissioned the Sobralleno Palace and the chapel- museum of the Marquises. His son built the Pontifical University which he offered to the pope who gave it the pontifical title in return.
To make sure you see the main sights call in at the tourist office to get a map. There is a map with a route round the town to take in the Modernista sights and another to take in the historic sights.
A highlight among the buildings is the 'El Capricho' designed by Antoni Gaudi. Much of the building and the Mudejar-style tower are covered in tiles in typical Gaudi style. The building is now a restaurant, quite expensive but well worth it for the experience of eating in a Gaudi building as well as for the food. Even if you don't eat there you can visit the garden which allows you to have a closer look at the building.
The beautiful Sobrelleno Palace is another Modernista building designed by one of Gaudi's associates Joan Martorell. It is possible and recommended to take a tour inside the building. The chapel mausoleum is Modernista with a classical influence where the palace has a more Gothic influence. It is thought to be one of the best examples of Modernist Catalan architecture in Cantabria. Some of the furnishings inside were designed by Gaudi.
Another building on your tour is the Pontifical University which is approached through a very quirky entrance gateway and the building itself is stunning. A mix of Eclectic, Gothic-Mudejar and Modernist, all in wonderful rich red and orancge coloured bricks, mixed with stone to enhance the shapes of the detail in the building. You can visit the gardens and so get a closer look.
As well as these Modernista sights there are a wealth of historic sights to see in Comillas and of course the harbour and the excellent beaches.
Places to Visit Nearby
One of the key sights to see are the nearby Altamira caves. These contain some of the best pre-historic paintings in the world. Be sure also to visit Santillana del Mar, another of the most beautiful towns in Spain. This area is rich in beautiful towns and villages as the nearby village of Barcena-Mayor is classified as a 'most beautiful village of Spain'.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Asturias and Cantabria guide.