History of Santander, Spain

The History of Cantabria is a rich one. This Spanish region has been inhabited since ancient times, proof of it are the outstanding prehistoric remains that you can find here. Especially important are the prehistoric cave paintings of Altamira, in the town of Santillana del Mar, which are believed to be fifteen thousand years old. But there are more than 30 caves in different parts of the region with artistic remains from the Palaeolithic times.

Roman times in Cantabria

People of Cantabria resisted fiercely to the Roman invasion of the Iberian Peninsula, being one of the last regions to be controlled by the Romans. Roman influence in Cantabria is therefore quite superficial and restricted mostly to the cities founded by the Romans themselves.

The Romans named Santander "Portus Victoriae Iuliobrigensium" and established here an important harbour which was the origin to the city we know today. The current name of the city derives from the monastery of "Sancti Emeterii".

The Middle Age

Cantabria became independent from the Romans in the year 409 and remained so until 574 when the Visigoths founded here the Duchy of Cantabria. The region, however was not always geographically identified, during the Middle Ages part of Cantabria was incorporated to Castile and other part belonged to Asturias.

Santander was an important harbour for Castile during the Middle ages, especially when trading with the New World was established.

Modern Santander

Santander officially became a city in 1755, thanks to the king Ferdinand 6th. In 1833 the Spanish territorial reform gave Cantabria an administrative centre for the first time in its history, and in 1983 the Spanish "province" of Santander became the Autonomous region of Cantabria.

The city was a favourite summer resort for King Alfonso 13th which brought about a boom in architecture and the development of Santander as a beach resort still popular today.

One of the sadest events in the history of Santander, was the fire which burnt the city during two days in 1941. Many buildings were destroyed, and the medieval city centre was lost, loosing a part of the history of the city itself.

Today, Santander is a charming, modern city with a rich cultural and historic heritage and seaside elegance. One of the most beautiful cities in Spain and a priviledged destination for a holiday at the beach.