At the highest point of La Magdalena Peninsula, surrounded by woods and cliffs, stands the Royal Palace, built by popular subscription as summer residence of Kings Alfonso XIII and Victoria Eugenia. An event that changed the history of the city, turning the Cantabrian capital into a summer court and a tourist destination for most of the aristocracy and bourgeoisie of the country and therefore the main economic and social driving force of Santander.
For a century it bore witness to the recent history of the city and the country. In 1933 it became the Summer International University of Santander, a brilliant educative project, the seeds of the current Menéndez Pelayo International University (UIMP) that nowadays finds in this building its most famous headquarters and where, every year, its prestigious summer courses are held. It is the most emblematic building of the city together with the Botín Art Centre, which is being built in the Albareda quay.
Indeed, Santander takes advantage of the tourist and the media power of the University and the building itself. Designed by architects Gonzalo Bringas and Javier González de Riancho-two young men from Santander who had just graduated-, it was given in 1912 to the Royal Family, who decided to use it as a summer residence from 1913 to 1930. Each month of July, the Kings arrived at Santander accompanied by their closest courtiers and the city became the political capital of the State in a crucial period for the Spanish history and at the time in which the end of the Restoration took place.
After the overthrow of the monarchy, the Republican government, who had taken possession of the building, decreed that it would be the headquarters of the International Summer University (current UIMP). In 1977, the Town Council of Santander purchased from the count of Barcelona La Magdalena Peninsula, including all its buildings.
This English-style palace, the cost of which amounted to 700,000 Spanish pesetas, consists of five floors boasting a number of very well preserved noble rooms. The most striking spaces are the Royal Hall, the Family Hall and the Dance Hall. Antique furniture, paintings and pictures of great value are preserved in its interior.