The most recent history of the Cantabrian capital abounds in figures related to politics, science and particularly to culture. The following are some of the neighbours and most distinguished visitors who have taken Santander’s name beyond its borders.

Marcelino Menéndez Pelayo

Santander, 1856-1912


Writer and scholar mainly devoted to the criticism and history of the Spanish and Spanish-American literature. He was an expert of everything, devoted to books. Member of the Spanish Royal Academy, member of the Spanish Parliament, director of the National Library and nominated for the Nobel Prize in 1905.

José María de Pereda

Polanco, 1833, Santander, 1906


Novelist and politician. He placed all his style in Realism and Spanish Costumbrism. His most famous works are Peñas Arriba, Sotileza and De tal Palo tal Astilla. He worked as a journalist for La Abeja Montañesa newspaper and for El Tío Cayetano weekly paper, which was founded by him.

María Blanchard

Santander, 1881, París, 1932


Painter. A birth deformity stressed her solitary character. Apart from Santander, she lived and created in Madrid and later in Paris, where she learned how to use colours freely and how to get rid of academicism. She was influenced by cubism during most of her career.

Alfonso XIII

Madrid, 1886, Roma, 1941


The Spanish monarch was linked to Santander most of his life and especially during the summers between 1913 and 1930, when he established his official residence in the Palace of La Magdalena. The flowering lived in the city in the early 20th century was due to this event.

Gerardo Diego

Santander, 1896, Madrid 1987


National Prize of Literature in 1925. Writer of the Generation of ‘27 and author of the famous Antología (Anthology) which made them known. He was one of the main followers of the Spanish poetic avant-garde movement, especially of Ultraism and Creationism. He was a key influence for other writers and poets who succeeded him.

Francisco González

Santander, 1918-1990


Drawer and sculptor. He was the reformer of caricature in Spain. His works stand out for the psychological resources and the synthesis he employed on them.

Enrique Gran

Santander, 1928, Madrid 1999


He is one of the most original plastic artists of his generation for his personal vision of abstract art. He belongs to the group of painters who studied at the Academy of San Fernando, as his friend Antonio López. Filmmaker Víctor Erice portrayed them both in Dream of Light (‘El Sol del Membrilllo’).

José Hierro

Madrid, 1922-2002


Poet. Born in Madrid but adopted by Santander because his family moved to this city when he was just two years old. His overwhelming talent earned him recognition with the National Prize of Poetry in 1953 and 1999, the Prince of Asturias Award in 1981, the National Prize of Literature in 1990 and the Cervantes Prize in 1998.

Cioli Santander, 1922-2011


José Sanz Tejera, more commonly known as Cioli, is one of the most beloved characters of Santander, admired for his goodness and altruism. From his beach, La Magdalena, from the place called El Balneario (the Resort), he used to watch the sea and run to the rescue of those who were in distress. He saved the lives of at least 140 people..

Los Hermanos Tonetti

Santander, 1920-2004 and 1928-1982


These brothers, José and Manolo ‘Nolo’ Villa del Río, were the biggest clowns in Spain in the second half of the 20th century, as well as circus entrepreneurs. They lived their heyday while they were in charge of the Atlas circus. But in the 1980s they had to close it and ‘Nolo’ could not get over a deep depression. José Villa, the oldest one, received the Gold Medal of Fine Arts awarded by the Cabinet in 1993.