It could be said Santillan del Mar on its own is a museum. Just walking around it is a treat. The streets are narrow and the structures have a weathered look that makes you wonder what they could disclose if they could talk...
The renown of Santillana finds its origin in the “Santa Juliana” collegiate church built over an old hermitage which guarded the remains of Holy Juliana, martyr in times of Diocletian.
From the name of the Saint derived the name of the town.
The actual church was built in the 12th century in a Romanesque style.
The cloister was constructed in the following century and became very important. The Benedictine monastery rule was changed to the canon rule of St Augustine.
The sculptures on the church evoke the usual topics of the medieval religiousness, the fight between Good and Evil and the need of doing penance. In the main façade there is a triangular pediment with the martyr’s image. The relics of Santa Juliana are kept in the altarpiece which is an excellent Hispano-Flemish fifteenth-century work of art.
The monastery of Santa Juliana was one of the stages on the pilgrims northern road (coastal route) starting from San Sebastian to Santiago de Compostela.
Pedestrian only centre.
From this coble stone street (like all streets of Santillana) going down to the collegiate church, you will have a nice view on the monastery.
On the left is the Casa de Valdivieso from 18th c., transformed in the hotel*** and restaurant "Altamira".
Further down Calle del Canton shows a collection of “casonas” (the old typical houses owned by the rural nobility), from the 15th to the 17th c.
Among them the “Leonor de la Vega” gothic house (XV century), who was the mother of the first Santillana´s marquis, nowadays a hotel, and the house known as “casa de Los Hombrones”, with a large shield of arms flanked by two impressive knights with moustache.
Pedestrian only centre.
The Plaza shows two towers:
The Torre del Merino is a defensive tower from the 14th c. and the Torre de Don Borja mainly from the 15th c. belonged at the origin to the Barreda family.
Today this tower belongs to the Santillana foundation and has been transformed in a cultural centre.
To the left of this tower is the Ayuntamiento or town hall.
In front of the Parador are the Casas del Aguila y de la Parra; the meaning of the statue of a bison remains for me a mystery.
This Plaza was not the original centre of the city which was the collegiate church and monastery. When the civil power got separated from the ecclesiastic power and, as the town had no defensive walls, noble houses in the shape of towers, in order to resist possible sieges, were build here in the 14th c.
Another urban centre was created around the present Plaza Ramon Pelayo with its defensive towers.
Pedestrian only centre.
When arriving from Santander by the CA-131, the entrance of the medieval village is on the right with an obligatory parking for non-residents of the pedestrian only centre.
By the Calle Juan Infante one arrives at the Plaza Ramon Pelayo which is the plaza mayor of Santillana.
The first building on the right is the Casa Barreda - Bracho build in the 17th c. with a splendid family shield above the entrance of this typical house of nobiliary mountain style.
The Count de Güell restored the building around 1920 and transformed it into an important cultural and literary centre visited by King Alfonso XIII.
The palace became a hotel already in 1944. It was one of the first Paradors.
The name was taken from the French novel (1715-1735) of Lesage "Gil Blas de Santillana".It is a full fiction hero; nor he nor the author have been in Santillana. However there was a Don Blas de Barreda.
The present museum, at 2 km outside Santillana with a large free parking space, was opened in 2001.
It is organized around two main areas; the New Altamira Cave and the galleries dedicated to "The Times of Altamira". In the former visitors can see how the cave looked 15,000 years ago, including the reconstruction of a palaeolithic camp, an archaeological dig, the artist's workshop, a bear pit, and of course, the chamber of the paintings.
The galleries hold a large attractive exhibition about everyday life and art in the upper palaeolithic, the times of Altamira.
All the information and signs in the museum are in Spanish and English.
May to October: Tuesday to Saturday 9.30 to 20.00 h. Sundays 9.30 to 15.00 h
November to April: Tuesday to Sunday 9.30 to 18.00 h. Sundays 9.30 to 15.00 h.
Closed every Monday, 1 & 6/01, 1/05, 16/09; 24, 25 & 31/12.
Price: 3€, reduced: 1.50 €.
Free admission: Under 18 years old, over 65 years old and Saturdays from 14.30 and every Sunday.
The group and guided visit of the new cave takes 20 minutes.
The number of visitors per day is limited.
Advance booking is recommended in July-August.
We visited in June without reservation and had only to wait 10 minutes before getting in the replica.
No photos allowed.
Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola's discovery of the paintings in the cave (2 km from the centre of Santillana) in 1879 was the first discovery of Palaeolithic cave art.
Bison, horses, deer, hands and mysterious signs, both painted and engraved, are the artistic expression of the inhabitants of the cave 15,000 years ago, in the Upper Palaeolithic.
The idea of prehistoric men generally held at that time made it difficult to accept that they could be the artists responsible for the paintings. Furthermore, the freshness and spectacular conservation of the paintings seemed suspicious.
The honesty of Sautuola was put in doubt mainly by the French prehistorians who rejected the authenticity of the paintings
Some years later, the discovery of cave paintings in France revived the interest in Altamira, which had remained forgotten about during that time. No one could anymore have doubts about the true age of the paintings.
When, around 1975, the Altamira Cave was visited by more than one hundred thousand of people in one year, the first warnings about the deterioration of the paintings were made.
In 1982, the number of visitors that Altamira could take annually was fixed at a maximum of 8.500. In this way, the microclimate could be kept stable, and the group of paintings and engravings could be conserved. Visit to the original cave was on reservation with a - long - waiting list. At that moment, it was proposed that a replica was needed, as an alternative to the original cave.
At the present time, it is NOT possible to visit the original Cueva de Altamira.
The Higher Council of Sientific Research and the Spanisth Historical Heritage Institute is analysing the environmental parameters and microbiological contamination levels in the cave in order to determine its real conservation conditions and establish a new system for visits in future years
I guess I could precede every tip for Santillana del Mar with the word medieval. That would be annoying so I won't. I'll just leave it on this tip.
That being said, here are some photos of said plaza. Enjoy.
There are not many streets in Santillana to get lost in, but try as there are a few objects and buildings scattered here and there if you follow your nose a little.
The Cantabrian coat of arms seen here was found on a wall a couple of hundred metres behind the monastery unknown to many. I showed the photo in the Information centre, as I didn't know what it was, they told me what it was but didn't know where I'd found it and didn't know it existed.
This shield represents the conquest of Seville by Cantabrian sailors in 1248, the two martyres Emeritius and Celedonius with the Spanish royal crown above.
Up by Santa Juliana monastery there are further pieces of 14th and 15th century buildings. There is a very old wash-house in the middle of the calle del Rio , the Velarde palace (15th century) and other nobles houses.
Je crois qu'il faut être réaliste et que sauf des scientifiques le public ne verra plus les grottes préhistoriques originales d'Altamira.
Dans le texte ci-joint du site officiel www.museodealtamira.mcu.es
"En la actualidad se está procediendo a la realización de un nuevo estudio de las condiciones de conservación de la cueva de Altamira, por lo que se han interrumpido temporalmente las visitas."
Le mot "temporalmente" peut être remplacé par définitivement étant donné que la réplique d'une partie de la grotte et le musée dont cette cueva nova fait partie sont devenus l'élément essentiel du site.
Tout est bien organisé, grand parking gratuit, bâtiments modernes, visite (20 minutes) de la réplique avec guide.
Pourtant ma déception fut grande comparé avec Lascaux en France dont la réplique a pu recréer les conditions même de la grotte originale (elle aussi fermée depuis longtemps.)
Le musée est intéressant et compense un peu pour la déception de la grotte.
Le prix de 2,40 € n'est heureusement pas élevé avec réductions ou gratuité pour certaines classes d'âge.
Ouvert: mardi à samedi 9.30 - 20 h (hiver 9.30 - 18 h), dimanche et jours fériés 9.30 - 15 h.
Santillana del Mar n’est distante que d’une quinzaine de Km de l’Océan Atlantique. C’est la Costa de Cantabria à hauteur de la cité balnéaire bien connue de Santander ou plus à l’Ouest la Costa Verde.
Cette côte est orientée au nord sur le Golfe de Gascogne et offre une belle alternance de plages et de rochers.
C’est une côte peu ensoleillée qui attirait des têtes couronnées et la bonne bourgeoisie au 19e et début du 20e siècle à cause de son climat tempéré.
Five minutes by car from Santillana´s city center we´ll find Altamira Caves, where there are some of the best conserved Hight Paleolithic paintings. Imagin, they are so well conserved that they were considered false!!! To reach the caves just take Jesus de Tagle St, then continue by A. Sandy avenue and follow the indications.
Nowadays the cave is closed because it´s being investigated, but we can visit the Altamira Museum, where is a exact copy of the real cave.
2,40€ per person, 1,20€ with student card. There is also a one year pass for 24,04€.
Saturdays from 14:30 pm, sundays, 18th of May, 12 of October and 6th of December the entrance is FREE.
A guided tour is included in the price, but you have to ask for it when you buy the ticket. Your visit hour will be assigned depending on the visitor number.
If you wanna do a grop visit you have to call two weeks before to this number 942 81 81 02 from Tuesday to Friday 9:30-14:30.
From May to October from 9:30 to 20:00.
From November to April from 9:30 to 15:00
Sundays and festivities from 9:30 to 15:00
CLOSED: All mondays, 1st and 6th of January, 1st of May, 15th of September, 24, 25 and 31 of December.
TAKING PICS IS NOT ALLOWED!!!
Here you'll find some of the most horrible european capital punishment and torture instruments ever used. For example: the guillotine, chasity belts, the ladder rack, the iron maiden, judas cradle, etc.
Really interesting, the museum is quite little but very recomendable.
Unfortunatelly taking pics is not allowed.
It's open every day from 10am to 21pm, and it costs 3,60€ (2007) per person. Maybe cheaper with student card.
A good way to have a quick look to the village could be this one:
1-. We'll start in the tourist information office in Jesus de Otero St, next to the car park area.
2-. Turn left in Gandare St. Go strainght there, and turn right in Calle de la Carrera St.
3-. In this street you'll find some of the most importat things in the place, such as, Peredo-Barreda Palace, Villa Family´s House, Velarde Tower, Inquisition Museum, etc.
4-. In the end of this street you'll find the romanic Colegiata de Santa Juanita. After enjoying that, come back throught Calle del Racial St., then Juan Infante St and Santo Domingo St.
5-. Cross the main road and take Jesus de Tagle St. Here you´ll find Regina Coelli Sacred Art Museum and Convento de las Clarisas.