Santillana del Mar travel guide

Cities and towns

About Santillana del Mar

Santillana del Mar in Cantabria is often considered one of the most beautiful towns in Spain, a medieval town of stunning architecture close to the incredible Altamira Caves, which are filled with some of the world's oldest and best preserved prehistoric art in the world.

Named after St Juliana whose remains reside in the town's stunning church, the Colegiata de Santa Juliana, Santillana del Mar has a rich history that is visible in every inch of the town. The entire town is a registered National Monument whose medieval architecture is some of the most important still standing in Spain, including the Torre del Merino and Torre de Don Borja, two towers that were built as both military edifications and as homes of the nobility. Wander through the cobbled streets of medieval mansions, or why not head out of town into the countryside and discover the palacios and villas of the rich amongst the lush green of rural Cantabria?

Just 2km from Santillana del Mar are the Altamira Caves and the Museo de Altamira where you can discover the paintings of bison, and other animals in the Neocave, a state-of-the-art 3D reconstruction of the original caves. In town, there is also a Museo de la Tortura (the Museum of the Inquisition), containing their instruments of torture, for those with a strong stomach.

Whilst in Santillana del Mar, you cannot miss the opportunity to try some delicious local produce from the cheese shops or buy some locally made pottery and other souvenirs from the gift shops here. Gastronomic specialities include bizcochos, small pastries best enjoyed with a glass of milk and sobaos pasiegos, a buttery cake flavoured with anise liquer. If you feel the need to work off some of these tasty snacks, the Natural parks of Oyambre, Peña Cabarga and Saja-Besaya are all nearby.

Why visit Santillana del Mar

  • Museo de Altamira
  • Colegiata de Santa Juliana
  • Food and Drink
  • Medieval Architecture

Overview

  • Country: Spain
  • Region: Cantabria
  • Province: Cantabria
  • Population: 4,000
  • Coordinates: 43.391078,-4.109402

Coordinates shown are based on the WGS84 system, please check driving directions before departing.

Nearby attractions

A glorious and important work of Romanesque architecture, the Colegiata de Santa Juliana was built to hold the remains of Santa Juliana, who was tortured to death in 304AD by her husband-to-be for not renouncing her faith in...

This is considered to be one of the 4 best zoos in Spain with over 2000 animals and 300 species of trees and flowers set in 60,000sqm. There's also a Stone Age park taking visitors back to the time when the local Altamira cave...

Situated on the top of a hill in pretty countryside, the Museum of Altamira is a centre for the preservation, study and dissemination of the Altamira caves and their works of prehistoric art.

This wonderful park is in an old mining site where you'll find, in partial freedom, animals from all over the world. Between trees and cliffs you can admire bears, lions, tigers, wolves, elephants, camels etc.

Places to visit nearby

A picturesque town on Cantabria's coast with wonderful beaches, a pretty Old Town and an astounding backdrop in the Picos de Europa mountains.

Santander, the capital of Cantabria, is an elegant city stretched across a wide bay with many stunning beaches.

Noja is a fantastic example of the beauty of Green Spain - a small town of stunning 17th century architecture surrounded by lush countryside, majestic mountains and gorgeous beaches