In this itinerary we invite you to make a tour of the centre of Santander through your senses. A journey starting at the City Hall Square that will take you through its streets and suburbs filling your retina with the beauty of the city. A place where the aroma of local fruits mixes together with that of sea products, pervading your stroll around La Esperanza Market. Where your palate will taste the best tapas and bar snacks or enjoy the most elaborate and innovative cuisine. And, at nightfall, the music will start playing in terraces and squares crowded with people that will make you feel the warmth of this hospitable and friendly Santander, turning your visit into an unforgettable experience. Santander, a real universe of sensations to your fingertips.
After admiring the spectacular beauty of the part of Santander which is located by the sea, we propose an itinerary through the most dynamic commercial city. This area is the geographic centre of the city and it also constitutes the business and leisure epicentre, since it is here where the inhabitants of Santander spend most of their lives apart from their neighbourhoods. People come to this sector of the city to work, to buy, to drink some wine and to run all kinds of errands.
Graphic extracted from the Official Visitors Guide Santander
City Hall and Square
Plaza del Ayuntamiento, s/n
☎ Telephone 942 200 300
The square of the City Hall represents the heart of Santander and its door has been a meeting point for almost every person of Santander. The building was built in 1907 in the same place where formerly stood the old convent of San Francisco. In the mid sixties it was enlarged to its present size. It has an eclectic style and it was built in two parts which were linked by a belfry. It consists of three floors richly decorated. In the lobby, for instance, we can admire a painting by Fernando Calderón which is based in the oldest image of Santander, “Braun’s engraving”, from 1575.
In the area surrounding the City Hall Square there is a series of streets full of shops, clear legacy of the origins of the city, when this zone was called Puebla Nueva and was linked to Puebla Vieja (the area of the Cathedral) by a bridge. Craftsmen, shoemakers, tailors and merchants settled here. Some of these streets have been recently pedestrianized, so it would be a good idea to zigzag them from the City Hall Square to Porticada Square, without forgetting any of them. Thus, an enjoyable walk may start at San Francisco Street towards Porticada, to come back along Juan de Herrera Street and, once there, continue down Rualasal Street, where, as its name suggests (Street of Salt), the salt deposits of the city were located in past times.
Church of Sagrado Corazón
C/ San José, 15Right at the end of Rualasal Street, at the junction with San José Street, we can admire the Church of Sagrado Corazón. A building designed in 1890 and one of the best examples of neo-Gothic architecture in the city, with all its characteristic features, such as spires and pinnacles. The colourful paintings of the interior, work of Enrique Immemmcamp, make this church different from other temples in Santander. Its 20-metre high nave and the twelve pillars that sustain it, where the twelve apostles are represented, are also spectacular. The residences of Jesuits are placed against both sides of the temple.
El Arrabal and El Medio Street
El Arrabal and El Medio are two of the oldest streets in Santander, although there is little evidence of that in their buildings. In the old days they used to smell of tar and fish, since they belonged to the late neighbourhood of El Mar, where fishermen and net-makers lived, usually placing their fishing on the streets. What once was the outside the city, with its warehouses for fish-tackles and its noisy taverns, has become part of the centre. Today it preserves some of the flavour of the mid-20th century Santander, since this was an oasis unaffected by the ’41 fire. Here one can enjoy the tapas and wines of its bars and the selected products of its shops.
El Este Market
C/ Hernán Cortés, 4
Built by Antonio Zabaleta in 1840, the Market of El Este is the result of the trade flowering in the city after Queen Mª Cristina signed the decree by which Santander became Constitutional Council and the capital of the province of Santander. It was organized around halls separated by interior streets which were
considered as public avenues. Nowadays it is completely rebuilt and it serves as a shopping centre, an exhibition hall and the headquarters of the Museum of
Prehistory and Archaeology of Cantabria. It houses a mosaic on the outside showing its past as the nerve centre to emigrate to America on board great ocean liners.
Museum of Prehistory and Archaeology of Cantabria
This museum has an important collection of archaeological remains coming from Cantabrian sites which contributed decisively to the study of the Upper Palaeolithic portable art, such as Altamira and Puente Viesgo. The first steps were taken in 1925 thanks to the donation of the private collection of the Marquis
of Comillas. Located in the basement of El Este Market, the Museum of Prehistory and Archaeology of Cantabria shows valuable objects, as a ceremonial staff found in El Pendo Cave with refined engravings, replicas of rock paintings, utensils from the Roman era and giant Cantabrian steles.
On the land of big cavities with rock art, the Museum of Prehistory and Archaeology of Cantabria accumulates material remains of well-known sites – La Garma, El Castillo, Altamira…-. The collections of stone and Palaeolithic portable art utensils, carved in bones and horns, turn it into a reference museum
among the European museums. Furthermore, this Museum shows the evolution of material culture from the Palaeolithic to the Middle Ages, accompanied by a visual tour of the evolution of ways of life. Multimedia, interactive, scenographic and infographic resources immerse the visitor in the historic evolution.
C/ Marcelino Sanz Sautuola, 3
and Pedrueca 1
☎ Telephone 942 226 072
Leaving El Este Market and following the walk in the opposite direction to the City Hall we reach the street Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola (the discoverer of Altamira Cave), popularly known as ‘El Martillo Street’. To the right we see the arch of Santander Bank and, at number three, the exhibition hall of the Botín Foundation, which houses top-level collections. A little further up, at the corner of Pedrueca Street, we find the headquarters of the Foundation, boasting an auditorium, workshop rooms and a library.
Pombo is one of the most endearing mythical squares in the city due to the number of childhood memories the people of Santander have of it. Indeed, today it is still a very busy play area after school time. Nowadays, the tradition of coming here every Sunday to swap stickers of popular collections or to look for old album relics is still kept. Trails of what this place was are the holes in the ground under the arches, vents of the old coal cellars that no longer exist.
☎ Telephone 942 211 564
In the same square we find the Pombo House or the Yacht Club (Club de Regatas), the oldest recreation association still surviving in the city. The building, built by architect Atilano Rodríguez in 1875, has a simple ornamentation based on double pilasters with Corinthian capitals, with its spectacular marble staircase standing out in the inner courtyard. The building met the interests of large traders and shipowners, who participated in social activities and gatherings. In principle, the facilities may only be used by members, but there is a chance to visit them in the morning.
Behind Pombo Square (in the opposite direction to the Bay) is Cañadío Square, a meeting point and one of the nightlife centres in the city thanks to the proliferation of nightclubs and pubs, which seem to be an heritage of its past: the most important beer factory in the city was located here at the end of the 18th century. It belonged to the count of Campogiro, who carried much of the production to the colonies in America on his own boat, ‘The Brewer of Cañadío’. In one side of this square stands the Church of Santa Lucía, opened for worship in 1864. This temple has a spectacular portico with large columns of Ionic order. Renaissance-inspired, like the paintings of the interior, it was declared Heritage of Cultural Interest in 1987.
Regional Film Library
C/ Bonifaz, 6
☎ Telephone 942 319 310
The area surrounding Pombo and Cañadío Squares is the ideal place to start a route towards Puertochico, punctuated with stops to taste some of the best wines and tapas of the city. The best plan for this area is to walk allowing oneself the luxury of getting lost in the most traditional streets and locals in the city. Shortly before reaching Puertochico is Bonifaz Street, where we can also go for tapas and where is located the Regional Film Library of Cantabria, a cultural facility that will delight cinema lovers and where, in addition to good movies, theatre and jazz Plaza de Cañadío seasons are scheduled.