Cantabria

Northern Spain a region less known…

 

The
province of Cantabria is part of what is known as Green Spain
due to its lush vegetation a result of the wet and moderate oceanic
climate characterized by warm summers and mild winters.   It has
managed to escape mainstream tourism as many travelers are still
unaware of what this magnificent region has to offer. 


cantabria-landscapeFor
many centuries, Santander, the capital, was the port of Castilla, the wheat from its fields and the wool from its sheep
awaited by England or Flanders set sail from Santander and other
small ports in the region.  One can only imagine the impression
produced on the Castellanos traversing the mountains of
Cantabria as they discovered this unknown countryside on their
journey to rainy Santander.  Even today travelers are taken aback by
the scenery when making their way from the arid interior of the
peninsula and are greeted by these breathtaking green landscapes. 
Rather than the small concentrated towns of the province of Castilla Cantabria’s villages are scattered through the valleys giving life
to the Atlantic landscape.  This Northern region stands in total
contrast to the southern part of the peninsula where inhabitants
have a propensity to be more social and the land tends to be more
agricultural or desert, the predominantly mountainous North is more
traditional with a richer natural environment, its people are more
reserved and a little more resistant to change.

In
Santander, an elegant city extending over a wide bay, as in San
Sebastian Madrid’s bourgeoisie found a place where to spend their
summer vacations.  La Playa del Sardinero and its surroundings are
reminiscent of those long summers of the first half of the twentieth
century.  Despite a terrible fire that devastated much of the city
in 1941, Santander still retains a deserved reputation as one of the
most beautiful cities in the region.

The
coastline is known for its fishing ports such as Santoña, east of
Santander, famous for itscantabria-casa-rural
magnificent anchovies and San Vicente de la Barquera, to the west,
for its unparalleled sardines.  On either side are endless beaches
with clean, crystal clear waters surrounded by stunning natural
landscapes.  In this region surfing aficionados can enjoy some
of the best surfing spots in the peninsula such as the one at
Somo
beach
, one of the most visited spots in Spain by surfers around the
world.  The interior of the region is a succession of green
valleys and high mountains, among them is Cabuérnica from where some
of nature’s best treasures, Saja and Pas, can be reached.  In this
area bears, wolves and eagles still roam and the rivers are full of
salmons and trout.  The latter one, Pas, embraces the rural
flavor of the region with its many picturesque villages.  Most of these
villages retain good examples of vernacular architecture with its
houses with wooden beams and balconies, small palaces and some
mansions built by the Cantabrian conquerors at their return from the
New World.  As a reminder of the New World some palm trees can be
found among their gardens.

At the
Southwest of the region rise the Picos de Europa an area highly
recommended for any traveler that enjoys trekking, mountaineering
and camping.  The cheerful people of Potes and their village are
the gateway to these mountains being the geographical center to many
of the trails.  Potes is an old market town with balconied houses
and plenty of shops. The Monday street market has been continuously
held since the middle Ages.  The town tends to get quite busy with
hikers during the month of August.


Cantabria is the richest region in the world in archeological sites,
the most famous being the world renowned Cuevas de Altamira, whose
paintings are part of an extraordinary treasure.  Nearby is perhaps
one of the region’s most beautiful villages, Santillana del Mar, a
medieval town which hascantabria-balneario
remained intact since the seventeenth century and definitely worth a
visit.

If you
are visiting the region and it is one of those days where the weather
is rainy, the best option is to visit one of its excellent
balnearios
(health spas), such as Liérganes or Puente Viesgo, to
enjoy the good life and savor the delights of the Cantabrian
cuisine, not to miss are the succulent cocido montañes, a white bean
stew typical of western Cantabria, sopaos (soupy stews) or quesadas
(cheesy dessert).

When
visiting this area travelers will find a peaceful countryside,
glorious mountains with inspiring trails, good food, few tourist and
most of all a warm and inviting welcome.

 

 

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