Picos de Europa,  Northern Spain
Picturesque villages in beautiful countryside with
medieval and pre-Romanesque architecture
© Nova Fisher  novatravels.net

Towns & Villages


Potes is an attractive village in Cantabria, an area that is surrounded by spectacular mountains, with running streams and rivers. Its streets have many bridges, as well as buildings and monuments with centuries of history. Potes was originally the dominion of the Infante Tello (14th century), son of King Alfonso XI of Castile, and in 1445 became the property of the Marquis of Santillana and his descendants, the dukes of El Infantado. The tower, known as the Torre del Infantado, a sturdy construction dating from the 15th century – and until recently the site of the Town Hall – is one of the most important monuments in the town today. We walked around the town and then dined at Casa Angel before returning to Abandames.

San Vicente de la Barquera

San Vicente de la Barquera, an old fishermen's refuge, offers one of the most picturesque sights on the Cantabrian coast, with its beaches, the old village and the beautiful backdrop of the snow-capped mountains of the Picos de Europa. San Vicente's old town has an interesting collection of monuments - the church of Santa María de los Ángeles, built between the 13th and 16th centuries, the castle and the remains of a wall. The Maza bridge, with its 28 arches was built on the orders of the Catholic Monarchs in the 16th century.


Comillas has some of the most important Art Nouveau buildings in Cantabria, which include the Sobrellano Palace and Chapel and the Pantheon, the Pontifical University and the El Capricho by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi. The Corro Campios town square is a lively social centre full of cafes set within traditional old buildings. The Sobrellano Palace was built for the first marquis of Comallas in the humble neighbourhood where he lived as a child. Not only did it realise his dream but it also provided accommodation for his friend King Alfonso XII. Sadly he died, aged 66, and never saw the inauguration of his palace. The unique El Capricho, designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, is all music, poetry, painting and architecture. Gaudi went against the standards of the time and combined iron structures, reddish and yellow bricks with glazed pottery to achieve a touch of realism.

Santillana del Mar

Situated on the northern route of the Pilgrim's Road to Santiago de Compostela, Santillana del Mar is a beautiful medieval town which was developed around the collegiate church of Santa María. Santillana del Mar is an “alive museum” of a medieval village with its picturesque cobbled streets lined with stately buildings, most of which were built between the XIV and XVII centuries. As well as the Merino and Don Borja towers (considered to be the oldest buildings in the town), the main square in Santillana houses other buildings of geat historical value: the Casa del Águila and la Parra, the Town Hall and the palace of the Barreda- Bracho, built in the XVII century and now a Parador. The whole of Santillana del Mar can only be visited on foot.

Natural Dunes of Liencres Park

The Reserve is one of the leading enclaves of dunes along the Cantabrian coastline, given its great landscape, geological, botanical and fauna interest. It stands on the left bank of the mouth of the river Pas, in a peninsula area limited by the Mogro estuary and several adjacent beaches. The dunes formed owing to the repopulation of maritime pine (Pinus pinaster) carried out in the mid 20th century.

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