Published on June 22, 2011 | by Andrea Guerriero


Santillana del Mar – the three lies town

Located to the north of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, Santillana del Mar – old Spanish village in the autonomous community of Cantabria – is definitely one of the prettiest villages in the Iberian Peninsula.

In Spain, the village is known as the “three lies town”, as it isn’t a holy city, (Santi), nor it is flat (Llana), indeed it lies on a hill, and it’s not by the sea (Mar), although this is less than 10 km away. In reality, the village is named after St. Iuliana, whose remains are kept in a monastery dating back to the ninth century, around which over time the city has developed.

The architecture of the urban centre is typical, with ancient houses and buildings often decorated in wood and narrow cobbled streets – the Rùas – lined with cheese and leather shops, cafes where you can enjoy the traditional tea with milk, cozy restaurants and cool shady courtyards.

Wandering the streets of this small town is very enjoyable, people are composed and proud to encourage the constant influx of tourists. The curious may also stop and take a look at the horrific Inquisition Museum, which boasts the largest collection of torture in Europe.

The town retains the intense appeal of an ancient town of the twelfth century with a major tourist attraction, the famous Caves of Altamira (Cuevas de Altamira), one of the most important archaeological and artistic heritages of the world, for the presence of incredible paintings of the Paleolithic era. The caves of Altamira are also known to the world as the “Sistine Chapel of the Paleolithic”, as it is covered with frescoes and paintings made around 20-30 thousand years ago, proving a cleverness that has changed the experts’ opinion about the artistic skills of prehistoric man.

Time goes by quiet in Santillana, between an excursion and a walk. The hill on which the town lies is characterized by a thick vegetation, a landscape much closer to Ireland than to the barren Spain, but without the unpredictable weather of the green country and with the same pristine shores quickly reachable by car.

Not far away, in fact, you can enjoy beautiful beaches such as those of Santa Juliana and Ubiarco Beach, while north of the rugged coast lies Punta de Calderón and the beach of Santa Justa, in a succession of inlets, blue sea and green coasts.

If you are searching for a holiday away from the clamor of the typical Spanish movida, even though still enjoying the wonders of this land, Santillana del Mar is the perfect place for you. Is this a lie? Try us!

Photo by mahatsorri


About the Author

Hi, I'm Andrea, a travel blogger, web programmer, seo apprentice and amateur photographer based in Milan. I love reading, I love music. I love to travel but only if I leave on a mission! I've been traveling through most of Europe and I love writing about it. I love photography, especially as a way to document experiences, places, events. My Nikon D300 camera is always with me, and it helps me in sharing my life with the rest of the world. Getting in touch with new people, different life styles and foreign traditions, and write about it, is all I can ask for.

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