The Parador Gil Blas in Santillana del Mar is extremely comfortable and we enjoyed two nights there. The town is very pretty and from there it is easy to visit Altamira and Suances. Now we planned to visit the Cathedral of Santander before taking the ferry back to the UK.
The road to Santander
From Santillana del Mar the motorway is good and provides an easy drive into Santander’s port area. The route is well marked and we soon parked the car in the designated Ferry area and walked into the town.
Origin of Santander
The Roman possibly founded Santander which they refer to as Portus Victoriae Iuliobrigensium. The town was later a refuge for people fleeing the Moors’ invasion in Spain. The Christians brought with them the relics of two saints, Emeterio and Celedonio. It is suggested that the Latin derivation of one of these names, Sancti Emeterii, later became ‘Santander’.
The layout of the city has changed considerably over time, and in the 16C the Cathedral stood on a raised promontory overlooking both the bay and an enclosed port. The port under the Cathedral was the outlet for a river which was closed off as the city expanded.
The Cathedral of Santander
Our final Cathedral! We had already seen cathedrals in Leon, Astorga, Mondonedo, and Oviedo and enjoyed and marvelled at every one. The Cathedral of Nuestra Senora de Asuncion in Santander did not disappoint either.
In the 8C King Alfonso II founded a Monastery in the town on the rocky promontary, and this is the site of today’s Cathedral which dates from the 12C-14C. Unusually there are two buildings here, one on top of the other. The lower floor dates from the 12C while the upper cathedral is slightly later.
The Cloister is 14C and irregular in shape. There were lots of people here because is it one of the ways into the Cathedral, via a door on to the top square.
Inside the Cathedral of Santander
The fire of 1941 destroyed the entire interior of the Cathedral and so statues and altarpieces now come from other sites.
The Crypt of the Cathedral
An atmosphere of intensity and spirituality here was strong and tangible. It was like peeling away layers of time.
An early morning drive and the intensity of the Cathedral led us to the busy cafe on the lower Cathedral Square for our last coffee in Northern Spain.
Walk along the front
There was just enough time to walk along the front before returning to the port.
Renzo Piano designed the Centro Botin of 2012-17 as a contemporary arts centre for Santander and home of the Botin Foundation. Sadly there wasn’t enough time to visit. The Centro is on the seafront and surrounded by the Pareda Gardens.
Waiting for the Ferry
And so we returned to the Port. The Ferry was due in and we had to return to the UK.
The middle of the day was warm and sunny but by the time we boarded and were sailing out of Santander we were under the clouds and it was soon raining. We had a bumpy few hours across the Bay of Biscay! It was sad to leave and we were determined to return the following year.
We had had the most wonderful five weeks in Northern Spain, blessed with good weather and sights which would last for the rest of our lives. It had been quite glorious.