Near Santander we can find interesting villages, between them we want to point out Santillana del Mar, which is one of the most historic and artistic valuable villages of Spain and Potes, one of the most beautiful rural villages in Spain.
Cantabria is famous for its caves and its cave paintings. In Cantabria, there are thousands of caves, some with cave painting. In fact, Cantabria has 10 caves that are world heritage by UNESCO as Altamira Cave, famous worldwide for its prehistoric paintings.
Another essential visit is the Cabarceno Nature Park, a spectacular zoo with free animals. The Picos de Europa, a spectacular mountainous landscape where you can enjoy practicing many activities in a natural envirnoment and the traditional fishing villages of San Vicente, Comillas, Laredo and Castro Urdiales.
Our selection of places you
cannot leave without visiting
CABARCENO NATURE PARK
The Cabarceno Nature Park is either a conventional zoo nor a natural park. It is a space modified by the man (in fact, this originally was an open- pit mine) and transformed into this amazing park thanks to the beauty of its karst landscape.
In the Nature Park of Cabarceno life develops in the most natural environment possible for the animals that inhabit it. Except for the food that is provided, the rest of the activities are marked by their almost total freedom and instinct. Almost 150 animal species from the five continents live in semi-freedom in this park.
With your entrance fee, it is included a visit with cable car around the park to have a general overview (approx.1 hour).
There are also some demonstrations if weather conditions are good: Raptors and Sea Lions.
Visit duration: 4-6 hours
SANTILLANA DEL MAR
☎ (+ 34) 942 818 075
Calle Jesús Otero, 20,
39330 Santillana del Mar
Santillana del Mar is called to be “the prettiest village in Spain”. It has managed to detain the harsh, relentless passage of time as if it were enclosed in a magic capsule removed from daily life. 30kilometerss from Santander and exudes history, culture and prehistory in equal measure, a balance difficult to find elsewhere.
I is impossible to resist the flurry temptations that take the form of palaces, mansions and towers such as those of del Medino, Don Borja, Velarde or the stately houses of Leonor de la Vega. But the jewel in the crown is the town’s Romanesque collegiate church, witness to a far-off time, which traces its origins to the 8th and 9th centuries.
In the surroundings of Santillana del Mar, you will also find the Altamira Cave, known around the world for its extraordinary prehistorical paintings.
ANY OF THE SPECTACULAR CAVES IN CANTABRIA
Museum and Research Centre of Altamira
☎ (+ 34) 942818005
Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola, S/N
9330 Santillana del Mar
"Altamira was the first European cave for which prehistoric origin of the paintings was suggested and promoted by Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola, 1879. Altamira was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985."
The Cave of Altamira located near the historic town Santillana del Mar is renowned for its numerous parietal cave paintings featuring charcoal drawings and polychrome paintings of contemporary local fauna and human hands, created during the Upper Paleolithic. The earliest paintings in the cave were executed around 35,600 years ago.
During the 1970s and 2000s, the paintings were being damaged by the carbon dioxide in the breath of a large number of visitors. Altamira was completely closed to the public in 1977, and reopened to limited access in 1982. If you want to visit the original cave nowadays, you have to come early on a Friday and participate in a drawing where only 5 people are picked to visit it.
Alternatively, you can visit the adjacent National Museum and Research Center of Altamira that has a meticulous, exact reproduction replica of the cave. This is called the Neocave and it is able to convey the beauty of the original. Made in full scale, it reconstructs what the cave of Altamira was like in Prehistory based on data provided by archaeological and geological research and the most cutting-edge topographical technology.
The museum’s most attractive offer is the possibility of becoming familiar with Altamira, humanity's first art. Based on scientific rigor and at the service of all types of users, it is a center for preservation, investigation, and dissemination of the cave of Altamira and Prehistory.
A NATURAL CAVE WITH PREHISTORIC CAVE PAINTINGS
Cuevas Prehistóricas de Cantabria
A part of Altamira Cave, there are other 9 caves that have been included in the World Heritage list. These caves might be not as known as Altamira but they are equally of a great value. These caves are: Chufín, Hornos de la Peña, Las Monedas, El Castillo, Las Chimeneas, La Pasiega, El Pendo, La Garma and Covalanas.
Of these, the most noteworthy caves that can be visited are the following:
The Moro Chufin is located in an exceptionally beautiful setting, in the Nansa River valley. Its spacious vestibule has witnessed important periods of human occupation occurring around 15,500 B.C. and even in previous periods.
Cueva de Hornos de la Peña is located in the crag known by the locals as Peña de Los Hornos. This cave displays one of the complete series of engravings in the Cantabrian region. The chronology of paintings found in this cave may hark back at least 15.5000-13,000 years B.C.
Cuevas del Monte Castillo. The Monte Castillo caves, located in Puente Viesgo, are a set of four cavities.
Two are open to the public: El Castillo and Las Monedas. At present El Castillo Cave have the most ancient Palaeolithic art of the world of at least 40 800 years of antiquity. Horses, bison, doe, aurochs, stags, goats, a mammoth, etc., are part of the catalog of animal figures, a varied bestiary representing some of the animals that lived alongside man. If you like prehistorical cave painting, this is a must-visit cave!
Cueva de El Pendo is located in Escobedo, Camargo, in the proximities of Santander. It is characterized by the large size of its main cavity. In fact, the main entrance of El Pendo cave is spectacular!. Among its paintings, you can find several Hinds, a goat, a horse and other animals unidentified.
Cave of La Garma, is located north of the village of Omoño, in the municipality of Ribamontán al Monte. It was found to wall paintings and fossils in a Lower Gallery, one of the best preserved Magdalenian period floors.
Covalanas is the cave is also known as the red hind, lies on the northeast slope of Monte Pando, over the El Mirón cavity, used as a habitation at least for the last 45,000 years.Its discovery sets it at the origins of prehistoric science and, more specifically, of Paleolithic art. This is a small cave is the most natural cave of all in the sense that no stairs of facilities have been done in the cave.
EL SOPLAO CAVE
☎ (+ 34) 902 82 02 82
Cueva El Soplao, Prao el Colla, s/n,
The cave will surprise you with its formations, colors, and smell. The cave of Soplao is considered one of the great wonders of geology, treasuring an authentic paradise of speleothems (eccentrics, stalactites, stalagmites, castings, columns, pearls of the caverns, dog teeth, etc.) in its 17 miles length, 6 of which are open to the public.
The cave was accidentally discovered during drilling for La Florida mining, subsequently being exploited for the extraction of minerals.
You can visit this cave in two different ways:
- Tourist Visit
- Adventure Visit
COMILLAS AND ITS CAPRICHO DE GAUDÍ
From the borders of Catalonia, Comillas is nonetheless a cradle and model of that region’s modernism. Within its scant 18.6 square kilometers of western Cantabria Comillas encompasses all the elements necessary to satisfy the wish of the most demanding tourist for culture and landscapes.
The exceptional legacy of an artist like of Gaudí, Martorell or Doménech i Montaner has shaped the legend of a place that stands out for its incredible landscapes (i.e. Monte Corona, the Oyambre Natural Park and the untamed Cantabrian Sea). As said, Comillas is integrated with a stunning natural setting with bequeathing works of the class and originality of El Capricho, the extraordinary majesty of the Sobrellano Palace or the stylistic richness of the Universidad Pontificia, to name three grand Pillars that support the concentrated attractiveness of Comillas.
☎ (+ 34) 942 72 25 91
Calle Joaquín del Piélago, 1
PICOS DE EUROPA AND POTES
☎ (+ 34) 942 73 07 87
Plaza la Serna
Potes, capital of the Liébana region, located 117 km from Santander, is a prodigy of natural, cultural, artistic, historical, gastronomic charms, etc.. The list of attractions is so full that it cannot be covered in one page.
The town, perfectly restored after Spanish Civil War, offers a harmonious sampler of stately Modern Age homes, churches, bridges and towers prevailed over by the Infantado tower, a superb, stern construction of the Late Middle Ages, built of masonry, with dressed stone used for the openings and corners. It is currently used to house the Beatus de Liébana Interpretation Centre.
Picos de Europa is a protected area of mountains. The colossal topography is an outpouring of perfection and offers unique and absolutely unforgettable sensations. The best way to see the mountains is by going up in the Fuente De Cable Car. It will take you up 800m in 4 minutes! Once in the superior station, you will be at a high of 1.823m. From this point, views are just stunning!
In the area, you can also find the Monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana. This monastery houses the Lignum Crucis, part of the left crosspiece of the True Cross, according to tradition. We will be in Jubilee Year until the 22nd April 2018. So, this is another must visit if you come to Santander.
If you want to visit this region of Liébana, you have to consider that you will dedicate all day to the visit. The travel to Potes will take you 1,5 h by car from Santander, and if you want to go to Fuente Dé you will have to drive another half an hour!. A good solution is to book one day tour to Liébana that departs from Santander.