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Santillana del Mar

Santillana del Mar, Cantabria, Spain

Walking back in time in Cantabria

On an October trip to northern Spain, I rented a car and made stops in a few small towns near the coast. One such town had caught my eye in the Lonely Planet guide, Santillana del Mar. Though not located on the coast as its name may suggest, this quaint town is set amidst rolling green hills in the country and features a well-preserved medieval town with cobble streets that is mostly free of vehicles (parking is limited to certain lots and areas). I lodged at Casa del Organista, a converted 18th century mountain home that for sixty years was the residence of the organist of the Colegiata of Santillana. My room had a view looking out to the hills and was full of old-world charm and comfort. The inn lies just steps away from the main plaza. Santillana a a great little town for wandering and exploring and I found myself wandering its narrow streets and exploring the various stores that sold everything from Cantabrian cheeses, sidra (cider), chocolates to a local liquor called 'Hijo de Puta' (son of a bitch) with a comical label and various flavors. Other attractions here include the Colegiata, a 12th century monastery, and the Altamira Caves. Santillana deserves an entire day to explore but would be better with at least two as it is such a fantastic place to just relax and get away from other more crowded tourist cities.