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',