Santander's history since its early development in the eleventh century is visible wherever you look. It was at this time, when it began to grow under the protection of the San Emeterio abbey, that the name Santander came to be used, based on the Latin name of the abbey.
Today Santander is a city that runs the length of a long bay facing the splendour of the Cantabrian Sea. The geography of the area is characterised by the contrast between sea and mountains, with buildings that have become iconic over the years: palaces and stately gardens with impressive views of the sea and the surrounding hills.
The unmistakeable maritime character of the many kilometres of beaches with fine sand washed by the waters of the Cantabrian is reinforced by features such as the Puerto Chico and the spectacular cliffs on La Magdalena peninsula. In terms of trade and tourism, the city has established itself internationally in recent decades, after King Alfonso III chose Santander as his summer residence over 100 years ago. The ports, the streets full of shops, restaurants, bars and leisure venues are further evidence of the commercial facet of the city's life. And to top this, it is highly successful as a tourist destination, with popular areas by the beaches, in the centre, in the outskirts and in the old part of the city. Today its hotels offer a wide range of accommodation, including two of the best 4-star hotels in Santander: the Silken Río and the Silken Coliseum.
A city with endless attractions of all kinds for tourists
Tourists interested in a holiday by the beach will find a wide selection of things to see and do in El Sardinero. The Gran Casino in Plaza Italia, the district's beating heart, is the emblem of this neighbourhood which is synonymous with sun, fine weather and superb seafood, especially the local signature dish, rabas (fried squid). El Sardinero, the stadium where Racing Club de Santander play, is one more attraction in an area that contains the spectacular Jardines de Piquio, the Menéndez Pelayo International University and the Palacio de Exposiciones y Congresos.
Between El Sardinero and the historical centre lies La Magdalena peninsula, a beautiful hill topped by the palace of the same name and reached by a trail that takes the visitor through delightful green surroundings.
Leaving the peninsula via a seafront promenade which is unrivalled in the north of Spain and heading towards the centre, you can find attractions like the Puerto Chico, the Cantabrian Museum of Prehistory and Archaeology, the Cathedral (which was an abbey in the seventh century, a collegiate in the thirteenth and finally a cathedral in the eighteenth), the statues of the Raqueros, the Club Marítimo, Plaza Cañadío, Jardines de Pereda, the Maritime Museum, Palacete del Embarcadero, Mercado del Este and the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art.