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Santander is the capital of the Cantabria region of Spain.
Santander is an attractive seaside town and a busy working port. Santander grew up and became wealthy because of its naturally deep harbour which led to it becoming an important port town. In the early 1900s the Spanish Royal family started coming to Santander for their holidays and built the Magdalena Palace. Wealthy and noble Spanish families followed and Santander gained a reputation as an elegant seaside resort which it retains today.
As well as being an excellent resort in its own right Santander is close to two UNESCO World Heritage sights; the Altamira Caves and the pilgrim route of the Camino de Compostella.
The Paseo de Pereda is the main boulevard running down between the old centre of Santander and the Bay of Santander. Here you will find attractive houses and gardens. Among these are the Church of the Annunciation and the Santander Bank's headquarters
Nearby is Santander's cathedral. The original cathedral was largely destroyed in the 1941 fire. It has been rebuilt in the Gothic style but still has its 12th century crypt.
Both the Paseo de Pereda and the nearby Plaza de Pombo, full of chic cafés, are the places to head for first in Santander.
From here wander towards the headland. You will pass Puerto Chico, the marina of Santander, and also the excellent Festival Hall, the Palacio de Festivales where Santander holds an annual International Film Festival. Not far from here are the excellent beaches of Playa de la Magdalena and Playa del Bikini. These are sheltered from wind by the headland making them very calm and pleasant.
At the tip of the headland is the Magdalena palace built as a Summer Palace by King Alfonso. This has been built in an English style and is surrounded by gardens.
On the other side of the headland is the most popular part of Santander - the seaside suburb of El Sardinero. Here there is the Sardinero beach and a beautiful beach front promenade. On one side the sea and on the other buildings from 'La Belle Époque' such as Santander's Casino, an imposing white building. The chic Plaza de Italia is a good place to stop for a drink or lunch.
Take a walk along the Paseo de Perez Galdos to admire the beautiful buildings of the Casa Pardo and the Hotel Real.
Santander, Spain Museums
Belles Artes Museum contains works by Goya and Mengs.
The Museo Provincial de Prehistoria has many exhibits from local caves.
The Museo Maritimo has skeletons of whales and lots of maritime exhibits.
Places to Visit Nearby
The famous Altamira caves are just a short drive from Santander.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Asturias and Cantabria guide.