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Covadonga Monastery in the mountains,


Picos de Europa
"Picón" Cheese Designation of Origin


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Tourism office:

Estación Marítima
39001 Santander.

Highlights: beaches, 'Altamira' cave with prehistoric paintings (12.000-15.000 b.C.), natural park of Cabárceno, 'Picos de Europa', natural reserve of 'Saja', natural park of 'Liencres y Oyambre'.

Monuments: cathedral, 'Basílica', 'Museo Marítimo del Cantabrico', 'Museo Municipal de Bellas Artes', 'Museo Regional de Prehistoria y Arqueología', 'Biblioteca', 'Casa Museo Menéndez Pelayo' , church of 'Santísimo Cristo', 'Palacio de la Magdalena', Casino building.

With only 5.300 Km2 Cantabria offers climate, fauna and nature variety usually only found in larger regions. Nature is extremely fertile here, being one of the the last refuges for bears, wolves, 'urogallos', 'pitos negros', 'treparriscos' and 'águilas reales' (eagles), specially in the natural reserves of 'Saja' and 'Picos de Europa'. The coast alternates fishermen's villages and beaches where the visitor can enjoy the beauty of landscape and seaside. The inside is mainly made of hill and mountains, with beautiful valleys that hide isolated villages. Several rivers flow form these mountains to the Mediterranean, Atlantic ocean or Cantabric sea.

The capital Santander is placed by the sea in a beautiful bay with a quite active port area. Santander has a comprehensive culture offer that is well used by locals and visitors alike, specially in Summer when the 'Internacional University Menéndez Pelayo' has its year's highest activity with the Summer schools that gather academics from Spain and abroad. Museums, bull fairs, casino, watersports,... all this and more make Santander a very atttractive city for entertainment. Also as close as 17 Km. from the city of Santander you will find of the 'Parque de la Naturaleza de Cabárceno', a sort of open animal reserve where you will find animals from the five continents.

Not far from the city is 'Santillana de Mar' a medieval town where you will be able to visit the world known 'Cuevas Prehistóricas de Altamira' (pre-historic caves). Make sure you book well in advance the visit to these caves that today are part of UNESCO'S World Heritage. There are other prehistoric caves in the region. Other sites include the 'Iglesia rupestre de Santa Maria de Valverde', Arab churches, romanic buildings and other monuments of different historic periods. Celebrations, handcrafts and its food make of this region a perfect place for a holiday. For those in seek of something special there is a building by Gaudí in the town of Comillas.

Food: A recent trend has been the conversion of the old farm houses and palaces into restaurants. In this way many buildings have been restored to their old magnificence and increased significantly the offer for tourism. The restrictions on European milk production cuotas has also made some people turn from their traditional skills to the art of cooking. In Cantabria the most traditional dish is the 'cocido Montañés' (mountain stew, with beans and pork) also known as 'olla podrida'. Other typical products are the 'cocido lebaniego', peas, 'compaño' (meat), stews with potatoes, 'merluza' (fish), lobster or seafood. Sardines or 'bocarte' are varieties of tasty small fish. The 'Bonito del Norte' (high quality tuna) can be bought fresh at the fish market or adquired already canned in oil. The fish industry of the area has a considerable weight in the overall economy of the region. Anchovies are an example of a product with a very high quality.

Rivers carry much trout and wild salmon, but 'angulas' are gourmet's favorites. Meat from Reinosa or Solares is a good alternative to fish as a main course. For dessert it is typical to have some 'arroz con leche' (milky rice), fried milk, or home made desserts like 'sobaos pasiegos', 'quesadas', 'Corbatas de unquera' or 'Pantorrillas de Reinosa'. Cheeses exist in different varieties and good quality: 'Cabrales', 'ahumado de Aliva' or 'Las Gamillas', for example.

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