Santona Travel Guide
Situated in the north eastern part of Cantabria, the town of Santoņa is a famous location, as home to numerous monasteries. However, even though deeply influenced by religion and history, Santoņa can be considered as a contemporary town. The town is a quiet and solitary place to visit, with inhabitants of just about 12,000 residents.
El Buciero and El Brusco are the mountainous parts of the town. The town center, unlike the latter, sits on a plain that allows for easy transport.
Santoņa is often referred to as a sailor village. The famous explorer Juan de la Cosa, an avid companion of world renowned navigator Christopher Columbus, drafted the first ever world map from the humble town of Santoņa. Consequently “Santa Maria,” the ship of Columbus, was also built here. The famed forts of San Carlos and San Martin played a strategically crucial role throughout Spain’s history. The San Carlos castle is a must-see attraction of the town as well.
Santoņa is a primary canning port in Cantabria. The fish canning commerce took a bigger leap with the commercialization of the tuna industry. The town is also widely known to produce the best anchovies with an exotic mix of olive oil. It would surely be a treat to try one!
Both locals and travelers are generously giving top reviews of the beautiful Berria Beach of Santoņa. Berria is an urban beach with fine white sand stretching about 2000 meters in length. The beach is not crowded and the windy atmosphere is just perfect for any fun under the sun. The natural environment around it makes the scene even more enjoyable. Simply strolling in its shoreline will prove to be an enjoyable leisure. This classy beach has a high ranked customer service and a wide parking area.
If splurging in the water is not enough, Santoņa adds a little more — fun-filled activity areas such as barbecue areas, volleyball courts and campsites are also available. As well, feel free to indulge to the town’s delicious concoction of cookery with your choice of restaurants and cafeterias found along the beach. One thing people love about the place is the wide open air area where one can organize a party anytime.
Places of Interest
A religious town indeed, its main cathedral, Nuestra Seņora del Puerto captivates the hearts of devout persons all around the world. Built in the 14th century, the church was originally a Benedictine monastery named after Monte Hano, a famous Franciscan from Austria. Aside from its sacerdotal importance, the church is an architectural marvel as well. The cathedral exhibits an exquisite blend of Romantic and Gothic elements, giving visitors an atmosphere suited for reflection and meditation.
The Monastery of Santa Maria Del Puerto is another religious and historical marvel. Its architecture is also an amazing sight. It was said to be built sometime between the 13th and 17th century. Aside from the spectacular faįade of the monastery, the famed gothic portrait of Maria is an added jewel to the place.
Places of historical importance are the ports of San Carlos and San Martin. The castle of San Carlos is a must-see whenever in town. The northern part of Santoņa is the Monte Ganzo and with the height of 376 meters, it is an alluring and dominant attraction. When you’re within the vicinity, you can try to have a walk and find the beautiful lighthouse of Faro de la Punta del Caballo which is situated very near Laredo’s lovely white beach.
Endowed with a natural beauty, the Reserva Natural de las Marismas de Santoņa (Natural Reserve for the Santoņa Marshes) is home to different species of birds in its marshland. The natural reserve is also known as the Doņana of the north. The place is just 50 km. away from Bilbao and is divided into distinctive parcels namely the Marismas de Santoņa, Monte Buciero, and Marismas de Victoria Joyel. The entire reserve is more than 3,000 in area. The limestone marvel with peaks as high as 376 meters, the virgin green forests and the fresh water, all combine to make the reserve an ecological haven. About 144 species of water birds cheerfully thrive in the marshes.
Being an ichthyologic park, the reserve is home to various aquatic birds that bird lovers and tourists alike would enjoy watching. In fact, bird enthusiasts from around the world frequently visit the place.
The sea remains as the main attraction and source of livelihood of the town of Santoņa. Every February the town holds a sea carnival in commemoration of the town’s gratitude to the waters. This small town is transformed into a place of gaiety as colorful floats parade the streets and upbeat music livens up the day. The Spanish’ endless passion for fiestas is very eminent during the carnival.
The famous sailor carnival is associated with the traditional trial done at the bottom of the sea. In 1934, this kind of activity was prohibited, but nevertheless, it has been a tradition to most fishermen of the town. Presently, the unique trial has become the main event of Santoņa‘s festival. The main event of the festival is the extraordinary presentation of the infamous trial. The convicted, represented by a huge sea bream is displayed in the Plaza del Peralvillo and given to a group of fishermen to be guarded by other fishes. On the time of its trial, the sea bream will be transferred to Plaza de San Antonio, the activity center of the village, When the trial begins, the locals will dress up as fish and will reenact the whole trial until the funeral of the thief, represented by the sea bream.