El itinerario aquí propuesto recorre la zona portuaria de la ciudad. En los barrios que conforman esta ruta conviven los trabajadores de la mar que fueron trasladados desde su antigua ubicación en Puertochico al Barrio Pesquero y los trabajadores que poblaron el barrio Castilla-Hermida, como consecuencia de la industrialización y el éxodo rural por la crisis agraria de mediados del siglo XX.
C/ Calderón de la Barca
Santander is a port with a long tradition in the transportation of passengers already in the colonial period, when it was the port of call for the most important transatlantic companies and the departure point for emigrants to America. Today, approximately 150,000 people a year use the facilities of the Maritime Terminal, which is located very close to Pereda Gardens. The building, erected in 1971, stands out for its roof of curved lines imitating the shape of sea waves. Passengers travelling in both Brittany Ferries regular services and cruise ships board at this station.
Cabo Machichaco Monument
In front of the Maritime Terminal, inland, is the memorial to the victims of the ‘Cabo Machichaco’ disaster, that fateful November 3, 1893. That day, at three in the afternoon, a fire started on board the Cabo Machichaco cargo steamship, which was docked at the port. Firemen began the extinction works under the watchful eye of about three thousand onlookers who had come to the pier attracted by the spectacle of flames. But the hold of the ship was loaded with dynamite and it ended up exploding, causing 2,000 casualties and killing more than 500 people. The deflagration was so strong that it threw human remains and debris quite far away and started a fire. The city was overcome by terror but this fact did not stop the neighbours who escaped unharmed to go to the aid of the victims as a solidarity wave. Help also came from abroad, where the British vice-consul organised a popular charity collection for the affected population. Machichaco’s disaster brought about a new tragedy four months later, when twenty people died during the underwater works to extract the dynamite.
Walking westward down Antonio Lopez Street we come upon the buildings of the Customs and the High Court of Admiralty. If we turn left at the first intersection, we arrive at the bus and railway stations. This is the popular neighbourhood of Castilla-Hermida, a column of buildings flanked by the railway on one side and by port facilities on the other, with an industrial estate and the beginning of the dual carriageway at its end. This is the less tourist part of Santander, home to the daily lives of its residents, who either arrived here displaced by the commercial strength of the centre or joined the urban population after migrating from rural areas, which suffered a serious agricultural crisis in the mid-20th century. The neighbourhood is dotted with small shops and bars to stop at. In addition, its streets boast a cultural infrastructure of reference in Cantabria, the Provincial Historical Archive and the Central Library, which is also the gateway to the Barrio Pesquero neighbourhood.
Provincial Historical Archive and Central Library of Cantabria
The building was built in neo-Mudéjar style in 1900 on the land of Maliaño dock. Half the tobacco imported into Spain for decades was kept here. This property was used as a prison for Republican prisoners during the Spanish Civil War and, after that, it resumed its activity as a warehouse until 1986. A recent alteration has fitted it out as The Provincial Historical Archive and Central Library of Cantabria, an example of reuse of industrial architecture buildings for cultural purposes. The history of the great library dates back to the Cantabrian Teaching Institute of Navigation and Trade in 1839. Later, it was renamed Provincial Library and it received the collections confiscated from the convents of Santa Clara, Santa Catalina, Monte Corbán and San Francisco.
Varadero and Naos Room
From the previous point it is possible to reach the Barrio Pesquero neighbourhood without needing to go back to Marqués de la Hermida Street. Facing the front door of the old cigarette factory premises we can walk among the sheds and old buildings located in the surroundings of Varadero Street, which will be especially enjoyable for industrial photography lovers. In this area we find the Naos Room, a cultural centre opened in a former warehouse by the Port Authority of Santander, which mainly hosts exhibitions of contemporary art. This room is part of the Sotoliva Complex, which also houses some of the administrative offices of the Port of Santander.
Barrio Pesquero (literally ‘Fishing Neighbourhood’) is a fishing quarter created in 1943 when most of the fishermen who previously lived and worked in Puertochico moved here. Structured in housing blocks not higher than three floors and organized around collective courtyards, this neighbourhood offers the possibility to taste the best examples of marine cuisine in one of its many bars and restaurants. We will know that we are in Barrio Pesquero once we arrive at the small square where Héroes de la Armada and Marqués de la Ensenada Streets meet. The most striking element is a mural painting on the façade of one of the buildings reproducing a typical seafaring image: fishing boat rowers in full activity.
Church of Nuestra Señora del Carmen
To the left of this mural, on the other side of the road for vehicles, we find the Church of Nuestra Señora del Carmen, patron saint of fishermen (‘Festivals’ section). This parish church is directed by the parish priest, Alberto Pico, one of the most beloved characters not only in the neighbourhood but throughout the city for his generosity toward disadvantaged people. Before him, it was another emblematic priest who took care of fishermen, Miguel Bravo. The admiration and gratitude of the neighbours towards these two priests resulted in a high school (IES Alberto Pico) and a primary school (Colegio Miguel Bravo / AA La Salle) bearing their names.
Ensenada del Arte
Almost in front of the Church is the Ensenada del Arte, a cultural centre where, apart from exhibitions, multidisciplinary training workshops are offered. Continuing the walk along this main street we reach the area with more bars and restaurants specializing in seafood and homemade cooking. Many of the establishments are connected internally by a network of corridors and courtyards which often surprise the visitor. On the other side of the road there are five-a-side football fields built on the site of the old net-drying places, today dispensable because new synthetic materials do not rot so easily.
Behind these sports fields, we can stroll along the edge of Maliaño dock, from which we can clearly make out the buildings of Marqués de la Hermida and the car park on the other side. This is the place where piles of fishing tackles are usually left to be repaired by net-makers. Some boats, those who did not have room in the Fish Market, berth here.
The building, located on a side of Maliaño dock, is easily recognized by its roof, with a line of parabolic curves. The first floor of the Fish Market contains offices and the ground floor has an amphitheatre for fish exhibition and auction and offices for exporters.