Welcome to the Hustle and Bustle: Mercado de la Esperanza
Start off your tour of Santander with some strong sensory impressions: take in the scent of fresh fish and sweet honey, the sounds of Spanish being spoken, and the sight of a myriad of deliciously presented foods – and you can even have a try. For all that, the always busy Mercado de la Esperanza is the perfect place to go. The two-storey market hall was built in 1897 and is easily recognisable by its glazed upper storey with cast-iron columns. Here, sellers offer their locally sourced and seasonal foods every day from 8 am, except Sundays: fish and seafood, fruit and vegetables, meat and sausage, cheese and honey – which, by the way, makes for an excellent souvenir.
Art and Culture: Centro Botín
After the hustle and bustle of the market, it is time for a little calm under cedars and magnolias: take a short stroll through the Pereda gardens to the waterfront promenade and the Centro Botín. The futuristic-looking building complex was designed by Italian Star architect Renzo Piano and inaugurated in 2017. Modelled on a two-part breakwater, it rests on supporting pillars that make it appear to be partially floating above the sea. The Centro Botín is home to an internationally renowned museum for modern art and cultural centre.
Along the Sea: Paseo de Pereda
Next, it is worth taking a long walk along the Paseo de Pereda, Santander’s waterfront promenade where anybody in need of refreshment is sure to be spoilt for choice. The fish restaurants are particularly worth a visit if you wish to dine in style while enjoying a perfect sea view. If you would prefer to relax a little, take a boat trip in the bay of Santander. Board straight at the Paseo de Pereda to enjoy many a beautiful view of the city. If you still have the energy to walk, keep going for a good two kilometres to see the Palacio de la Magdalena, one of Santander’s landmarks.
Palace of the Kings: Palacio de la Magdalena
One of Santander’s greatest attractions is the palace on the La Magdalena peninsula. The Palacio de la Magdalena stands at the highest point of the peninsula, offering an excellent view of the old town, beaches, and the sea. The palace was built between 1909 and 1911 to serve the Royal Family as a holiday residence. Today, it is mainly used by the university and for events, but it is also open to visitors. It is built in an eclectic style that combines English, French, and regional architectural elements.
The Historic Old Town: Where Fishermen Once Lived
To round off your tour, head back towards your starting point: the old town. That said, ‘old town’ is not precisely the right word. The historic part of Santander was almost entirely destroyed by a big fire in 1941, so most of the current buildings are fairly new. That does not make it any less worth visiting, though, particularly on a summer evening when the streets and squares are full of Spanish life. It stretches around the Plaza de Cañadío to the former fishing harbour of Puerto Chico. End the day in one of the tapas bars, pubs, or one of the many restaurants with delicious food and plenty of cheer.
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