Santander, Spain

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Palacio de La Magdalena
Santander Cathedral 2021 - exterior panoramic.jpg
Centro Botín
Playa de El Sardinero
Las Llamas
From top, left to right: Palacio de la Magdalena, Santander Cathedral, Centro Botín, Playa Sardinero, Banco Santander building, Las Llamas park
Flag of Santander
Coat of arms of Santander
Santander is located in Spain
Location of Santander within Spain
Santander is located in Cantabria
Santander (Cantabria)
Coordinates: 43°27′46″N 3°48′18″W / 43.46278°N 3.80500°W / 43.46278; -3.80500Coordinates: 43°27′46″N 3°48′18″W / 43.46278°N 3.80500°W / 43.46278; -3.80500
Country Spain
Autonomous community Cantabria
ComarcaBay of Santander
Judicial districtSantander
Founded26 BC, as Portus Victoriae Iuliobrigensium 9 January 1755, granting the title of city
 • AlcaldeGema Igual (2016) (PP)
 • Total35 km2 (14 sq mi)
15 m (49 ft)
Highest elevation
108 m (354 ft)
Lowest elevation
0 m (0 ft)
 • Total172,044
 • Density4,900/km2 (13,000/sq mi)
Demonym(s)Santanderino/a, santanderense, pejino/a, chani
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
Official language(s)Spanish
WebsiteOfficial website

Santander[a] is the capital of the autonomous community and historical region of Cantabria situated on the north coast of Spain. It is a port city located east of Gijón and west of Bilbao with a population of 172,000 (2017).[4]

It is believed to have been a port since ancient times, due to its favorable location, and is documented as far back as the 11th century. Much of the medieval city was lost in the Great Fire of 1941. Today, its remaining old town, beach and other attractions are popular with tourists and other visitors and its economy is mainly service based. The port is still very active and a regular ferry service operates to the United Kingdom. Fish and seafood dominate the local cuisine. Santander notably houses the headquarters of multinational bank Banco Santander, which was founded there.


Origins, Roman period and Middle Ages[edit]

The origin of the earliest human settlements in the current Santander is not easy to establish because there is little written and archaeological data. However, there would appear to be good practical reasons for ancient settlers to have chosen the north side of the bay, sheltered from it and safer from the storms of the Bay of Biscay, on the north side of the promontory of Somorrostro and along the ancient Becedo estuary. Moreover, the hillside provided good visibility for spotting potential attackers, making this the ideal place for the foundation of a stable settlement, which was to evolve throughout the Middle Ages.[5]

Although it is mentioned for the first time in 1068, in a draft document made by King Sancho II, in the 9th century Alfonso II the Chaste founded the Abbey of the Holy Bodies in the existing chapel on the hill of Somorrostro, housing as holy relics the heads of Saint Emeterius and Saint Celedonius and the graves of other unknown martyrs, giving the abbey its name.[6]

Alfonso VIII of Castile granted the city a fuero (charter) in 1187.[7]

Santander, c. 1590 – by Joris Hoefnagel

During the 12th and 13th centuries the population was contained within the walls of two different pueblas. La Puebla, the older, on the hill overlooking the city facing the bay, included the old castle, the Abbey of the Holy Bodies and the cloister. It had three rows of houses, separated by Rua Carnicerias and Rua Mayor, where the homes of prominent people of the town were, as well as those of the Abbot's canons. Meanwhile, the Puebla Nueva contained the convent of Santa Clara and San Francisco, which gave its name to one of the main streets; other important streets were the Rua de la Sal, The cavalcade Palace, Ribera, Don Gutierre, Puerta de la Sierra, Gallows and the Arcillero Rua. The two pueblas were joined by a bridge over the river that divided Becedo and flowed down to the shipyards, which were ordered by the king to take timber from the Cantabrian forests for shipbuilding. The villa was required to give the monarchy a ship per year.[citation needed]

By the end of the 15th century Santander had a population of about 4,000 or 5,000 inhabitants.[8]

The city owes its existence to the excellent harbour of the Bay of Santander. Santander was an important port for Castile in the later Middle Ages, and also for trade with the New World. It officially became a city in 1755.[9]

Great Fire of 1941[edit]

Santander fell victim to a great fire in 1941.[10] Fanned by a strong south wind, the fire burned for two days. The fire started in Cádiz Street, next to the harbour, the Cathedral and the medieval quarter.[11] The fire destroyed the Old Town Hall, Jesús de Monasterio and Vargas streets and Atarazanas square buildings. It led to a major change in the architecture of Santander, away from the older small stone and wood buildings with balconies to the enormous blocks of flats built during the reconstruction.[citation needed]

There was only one casualty of the fire, a firefighter from Madrid killed in the line of duty, but thousands of families were left homeless and the city was plunged into chaos. The fire destroyed the greater part of the medieval town centre and gutted the city's Romanesque cathedral.[12]


The city is located on the northern side of the Bay of Santander.[13]

Bird's eye view of the Bay


The city of Santander has an oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb), the annual thermal oscillation of the average monthly temperatures reaching around 10 °C (18 °F).[citation needed]

The maximum temperature reached in Santander Airport was 37.8 °C (100 °F) on 27 June 2009, and the minimum temperature −5.4 °C (22 °F) on 21 January 1957. The warmest maximum daytime average for a month was in August 2003, with 27.1 °C (80.8 °F).[14] Warm months (mean above 22 °C (72 °F)) are however rare.

Sunshine hours are very low by comparison with the rest of mainland and southern Spain. Even compared with other areas of northern Spain, such as Galicia, which have much more sunshine hours in coastal cities such as Vigo or Pontevedra. With just around 1650 hours of sunshine, Santander is about as sunny as London and Paris, and quite a bit less sunny than most of England's south coastal regions.

Climate data for Santander Airport (1981–2010) Record Temperatures (1954–2016)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 25.1
Average high °C (°F) 13.6
Daily mean °C (°F) 9.7
Average low °C (°F) 5.8
Record low °C (°F) −5.4
Average precipitation mm (inches) 106
Average precipitation days (≥ 1 mm) 12 11 10 12 10 8 7 8 9 11 13 12 124
Average relative humidity (%) 72 72 71 72 74 75 75 76 76 75 75 73 74
Mean monthly sunshine hours 85 104 135 149 172 178 187 180 160 129 93 74 1,649
Source: Agencia Estatal de Meteorología[15]

Tourism and sights[edit]

The bars and restaurants of the old town are popular with tourists, as well as the El Sardinero beach a couple of kilometres away.[16]

The Cathedral of Santander: The lower temple, called "cripta del Cristo" was built around 1200 on other earlier Roman buildings. It is 31 metres (102 ft) long and 18 metres (59 ft) wide, organised into three naves. Its style is a transition from Romanesque to Gothic.[17]

The Lighthouse of Cabo Mayor presides over the entrance to the Bay of Santander.[18]

Parque de la Vaguada de las Llamas is one of the largest parks in northern Spain, covering 11 hectares (27 acres) of the city.[19]

Santander is pilot for a Smart city. It is embedded with 12,000 sensors.[20][21]

Politics and government[edit]

The People's Party were the leading party in the municipal elections of 1999, 2003 and 2007.[22]


Building of Bank of Santander, where it originated and where it has its registered office.

As a service centre at the regional level, Santander contains important public institutions and private organisations with a large number of employees, including Marqués de Valdecilla University Hospital, the University of Cantabria and Grupo Santander. Activities related to culture, leisure and tourism are an important part of the city's economy, and the regional and municipal authorities look to augment the summer tourist trade with additional offerings, including conventions, conferences, cultural festivals and cruises. Banco Santander, Spain's largest bank and corporation, has had its legal headquarters located in the city since its foundation.


There are ferry services to and from Portsmouth and Plymouth in the United Kingdom and Cork in Ireland, all operated by Brittany Ferries.[23][24] Santander railway station serves three million annual passengers.

The city is served by the Seve Ballesteros–Santander Airport (SDR), located 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) south of the city centre.


Centro Botín, cultural centre designed by Renzo Piano


Santander has a great tradition and cultural activity, with events that play an important role in cultural and social life of the city. UIMP is a major international summer university and organizes large festivals of music and dance. The Festival Internacional de Santander (FIS), Festival Internacional de Música de Órgano (FiMÓC), Encuentro de Música y Academia and the Paloma O'Shea International Piano Competition are main cultural events.



Santander's cuisine is characteristic of Cantabria in that it is based mainly on seafood. Popular shellfish include almejas (clams) and navajas (razor clams); fish include seabream, red mullet, anchovies, seabass and sardines; and squid and cuttlefish are also commonly eaten.

Some typical dishes from the city of Santander are the fried calamari called rabas, double donuts, bean stew called cocido montañés, and seafood dishes ranging from seabass and sardine to products such as morguera.[citation needed]

Notable people[edit]

Historical figures[edit]

19th century[edit]

20th century[edit]



Racing de Santander is the main football team in the city, playing their home games at the Campos de Sport de El Sardinero.

Some elite teams of Santander:

Club Sport Ligue Stadium
Racing de Santander Football Segunda División Campos de Sport de El Sardinero
GoFit Sinfín Handball Liga ASOBAL Pabellón Municipal de La Albericia
Cantbasket and CD Estela Basketball Liga EBA Palacio de Deportes de Santander
Balonmano Pereda Women's handball División de Honor B Pabellón de Numancia
Real Sociedad de Tenis de La Magdalena Field hockey Honour Division La Albericia
Señor Independiente Rugby Union Honour Division Mies de Cozada

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Municipal Register of Spain 2018. National Statistics Institute.
  2. ^ Wells, John C. (2008). Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (3rd ed.). Longman. ISBN 978-1-4058-8118-0.
  3. ^ Jones, Daniel (2011). Roach, Peter; Setter, Jane; Esling, John (eds.). Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary (18th ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-15255-6.
  4. ^ "Cifras Oficiales de Población de los Municipios Españoles: Revisión del Padrón Municipal – Población a 1 de enero de 2017". Instituto Nacional de Estadística.
  5. ^ Fernández González, Lorena (2002). Santander una ciudad Medieval. Estvdio. ISBN 9788495742056.
  6. ^ "Catholic Encyclopedia: Santander". 1 February 1912. Retrieved 14 April 2011.
  7. ^ Casado Soto 1985, p. 646.
  8. ^ Casado Soto 1985, p. 648.
  9. ^ Ringrose, David R. (2005). Toward a contemporary city: Santander, 1755–1910. Ed. Universidad de Cantabria. p. 7. ISBN 9788481029772.
  10. ^ Aupí, Vicente (2005). El Incendio de 1941 en Santander. Guía del Clima en España. Omega. p. 75. Consultado el 16 de mayo de 2013. ISBN 84-282-1370-4
  11. ^ "Así ocurrió", El Diario Montañés (in Spanish), 12 February 2011, retrieved 14 December 2014
  12. ^ "Balance de la tragedia", El Diario Montañés (in Spanish), 13 February 2011, retrieved 14 December 2014
  13. ^ "Santander". Lonely Planet. Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  14. ^ "Extreme values for Santander". Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  15. ^ "Valores Climatológicos Normales. Santander / Aeropuerto". July 2011.
  16. ^ "Santander". Spain: Cantabria and Asturias. Rough Guides. Retrieved 24 December 2015.
  17. ^ David de la Garma. "Catedral de Santander" (in Spanish). Retrieved 14 April 2011.
  18. ^ "Lighthouse of Cabo Mayor". Retrieved 14 April 2011.
  19. ^ "Parque de la Vaguada de Las Llamas en Santander, Cantabria" (in Spanish). El Mundo. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  20. ^ Santander: The Smartest Smart City. Governing, May 2014
  21. ^ "SmartSantander".
  22. ^ "Resultados municipales: Santander". El Pais. PRISA. Archived from the original on 28 May 2007. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  23. ^ Isabella Noble (14 October 2015). "36 Santander". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 13 February 2019.
  24. ^ "Sail to Santander: Hop on board Ireland's first direct ferry to Spain".


External links[edit]