What to See in Cantabria
Barcenaciones – Village of Cantabria 2012
Barcenaciones is one of the twelve nuclei that make up the Reocín City Council, in the autonomous community of Cantabria (Spain). The town is located in the southwestern part of the municipality, at the foot of a hill, and bathed by the Saja River. In the past, there was a boat that crossed the river at this point. Barcenaciones is 6 kilometers from Puente San Miguel, the capital of the municipality. The village is 62 meters above sea level. In 2008 Barcenaciones had 69 inhabitants (Source: INE).
InBarcenaciones there are three manors with outstanding tree specimens. In La Quinta Capilla de San Antonio, three stand out: an Atlas Cedar Cedrus atlantica, 26 meters high, a 22-meter Lebanon Cedar and a 22-meter Common Cypress.
In the Quinta de San Raimundo, built in 1886, there is a botanical garden with several interesting specimens: a 22-meter-high Himalayan Cedar, a 35-meter-high Sequoia, a 25-meter-high giant thuja, and a cryptomeria.
Numerous mansions can also be seen in Barcenaciones, among which the Casa del Marqués de Palomares and the Quinta Capilla de San Antonio stand out. Barcenaciones became part of the first constitutional council that was formed with the councils of the Reocín valley. Barcenaciones is one of the towns that appear mentioned in the Cartulario de Santillana del Mar (around the year 1000). Of the architecture of Barcenaciones, the parish church of San Juan Bautista from the 17th century stands out. The doorway has a flat arch. Inside there is an 18th-century altarpiece.
One of the first reinforced concrete bridges built in Spain at the beginning of the 20th century (1903) was laid between Barcenaciones and Golbardo. By Decree 43/2002, of April 4, this “Golbardo Bridge” was declared an Asset of Cultural Interest, with the category of Monument.
In Barcenaciones, San Benito is celebrated on July 11, with a pilgrimage to the hermitage of this saint, which has been declared a Festival of Regional Tourist Interest. San Miguel Arcángel is also celebrated on September 24. The bowling player Virgilio Quintana Villegas was born in this town.
Near Barcenaciones we have many places that are worth visiting due to their beauty or interest. They are, without a doubt, some of the best places to see in Cantabria, and we are very lucky to have them so close. Here we leave you a small list of places that you must not miss if you come to Cantabria, and especially to Barcenaciones.
Barcenaciones is considered by some historians as the second oldest town in Cantabria, and one of the most beautiful (Pueblo de Cantabria in 2012). It is strategically located, with some of the most significant places in Cantabria very close by. Santillana del Mar and the Caves of Altamira, Comillas, San Vicente de la Barquera, Cabezón de la Sal, Suances or Torrelavega, are all less than 20 minutes away by car. This strategic location contrasts with the incredible preservation of the town, which has managed to maintain its stone houses and cobbled streets.
The town is bathed on its north side, by the waters of the Saja river. The water path, a walk that leaves the town and runs along the river, is a magnificent space for introspection and contact with nature. Apart from this, there are many paths that will allow guests to stretch their legs, and be in contact with nature, its animals, and breathe fresh air.
What to see in Cabezón de la Sal
Every Saturday there is a market in Cabezón de la Sal. From 11:00 to 14:00.
In the market you will find various sections: fresh fruits and vegetables, mostly produced in the region; clothes; shoes etc The most interesting is the offer of all kinds of typical items: honey, local liquors, cheeses, sausages from the area, artisan bread, desserts, and typical sweets. In general, they are quality products and difficult to find elsewhere. There is usually a very pleasant atmosphere and except for certain dates, it is not very full of people.
In Cabezón de la Sal there is a tourist office that provides information and brochures on the places to see in Cantabria and the area. Right in front there is usually a stall with sausages, wonderful cheeses from the Picos de Europa, honey, and liquor, which is one of the best. You can ask for Ramiro, who is one of the people who know the most about cheeses in the area. He will offer you a tasting before you decide to buy something.
At the exit of Cabezón to the west, there is a replica of an old Cantabrian village. It gives a pretty good idea of how the ancient settlers lived. It’s a very interesting place for children and history lovers. It is easy to park.
There, on the summit known as El Picu la Torre, behind the protection of large stone walls and other defensive works, we will see the houses and belongings of the town.
Settled on terraces on the hillside, the houses, with circular and quadrangular shapes, have been built in real size according to data from various archaeological investigations.
With thickly layered roofs, resembling the houses of a fairy tale, these constructions are a replica of the type of homes in which the Cantabrians and many other ancient European people lived.
A tour of the interior of these houses, sitting by the fire in their kitchens, surrounded by the loom, kitchen and store ceramics, farm tools, weapons, etc. will transport us to different moments in history, from the end of the Bronze Age (around the 8th century BC), going through some phases of the later Iron Age, until the appearance of the fully historical Cantabrians who would fight against the Roman legions in the time of Emperor Augustus.
From Monday to Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Sundays from 10:00-14:00
*Reservations for groups are made through the Tourist Office, by calling 942 700 332.
If you are a nature lover, the redwood forest of Cabezón de la Sal is a must-see.
Walking through this forest of giant trees is, without a doubt, an unforgettable experience, and a perfect place to escape the heat of summer or the rain in winter.
Admission is free, so do not miss the opportunity to visit it.
What to see in Santillana del Mar
Take a walk and be amazed
Known throughout the world as one of the best places to see in Cantabria, this medieval town has a remarkable degree of conservation, present in its cobbled streets and its traditional architecture. It has been declared a Historical-Artistic Site, and rightly so because wherever you go, you feel as if you have been transported to the Middle Ages.
Santillana del Mar is popularly known as the town of the three lies, since it is not holy, nor is it flat, nor does it have a sea (although the municipality does). Most of its inhabitants are dedicated to agriculture, livestock and especially tourism.
The capital of what used to be the Asturias de Santillana is considered one of the most beautiful towns in Spain. This is how the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre defined it in his work “Nausea”.
The Collegiate Church of Santa Juliana
Declared a National Monument of Spain in 1889, the collegiate church of Santa Juliana is one of the most important Romanesque monuments in Europe.
Its history dates back to the year 870, although what can be seen today dates back to the 12th century (almost 1000 years ago!).
Caves of Altamira
Just 2 km. from the center of Santillana del Mar, is one of the greatest landmarks of prehistoric archaeology: Las Cuevas de Altamira.
These caves are an enormously rich sample of Paleolithic art, as it preserves one of the most important pictorial and artistic cycles of prehistory.
Today, the original cave has been closed to the public. However, the NeoCueva, which is an identical representation of the real cave, was created so that visitors could enjoy and observe this wonder of history, unique in the world.
If you have come as a family, we recommend it as it is a plan that the little ones usually love. Guided tours are amazing.
What to see in Comillas
The Noble Villa
Noble and aristocratic town settled on soft hills that provide shelter to its beautiful beach and its secluded port.
The old square, the parish church, and some houses in the center of the town are excellent examples of popular architecture from the 18th century. The rest of the notable buildings correspond to the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. This was the period in which Comillas enjoyed its maximum economic and social splendor, favored by the initiative of Antonio López y López, an Indian emigrant to Cuba and founder of the great shipping company “La Trasatlántica”. His financial power and his friendship with the Crown earned him the title of First Marquis of Comillas, a title bestowed on him by Alfonso XII in 1882.
The impulse that the Marqués de Comillas gave to his native town reached its peak in the summers of 1881 and 1882, with the presence of the kings, the Court, and the Government. On September 6, 1981, a Council of Ministers was held in the town. On one of these royal holidays, the Marquis had the first public lighting in Spain installed.
Hometown of numerous bishops and archbishops, Comillas is known as the “Villa of the Archbishops”. It was also the birthplace of other illustrious men such as Jesús Cancio, the poet of the sea.
The town has a fine sandy beach near the fishing port. Due to the ecological interest of its coast, it is included in the Oyambre Natural Park.
The most popular and massive festivals in Comillas are those held between July 15 and 18 on the occasion of the Cristo del Amparo.
This beautiful and peculiar modernist palace is one of the first works of Antonio Gaudí.
The interior of the palace is like a fairy tale, it is profusely decorated and its elaborate forms remind us of a kind of candy and licorice house.
You have to pay for admission, and it is not especially cheap.
The Pontifical University
The II Marquis created the famous Comillas Pontifical University, although the building was built by the Jesuits in the s. XIX with Mudejar neo-Gothic style and has some modernist decorations that are worth seeing. Don Claudio offers it to the Pope, granting him the title of Pontifical.
Currently, Fundación Comillas is a private non-profit organization, created in 2005. Its main objective is the start-up, development, and management of a center of excellence dedicated to the promotion and specialized teaching of language and Hispanic culture.
Guided tours are a bit expensive, but if you like to explore historical places, and you love palaces, this is your place. Do not miss its gardens.
What to see in San Vicente de la Barquera
The Most Beautiful Bay
A fishing village of impressive beauty. In its old part, you can visit monuments of great historical value such as the Castle, La Maza bridge, the walls, Santa María de los Angeles, and the Hospital de la Concepción, among others.
Its estuary and nearby beaches are beautiful and probably one of the best in Cantabria. The beaches of Gerra and Oyambre are some of the best in Cantabria.
For us, San Vicente de la Barquera is one of the most beautiful places in all of Cantabria. Its bay is spectacular, and walking through its streets is a joy.
We highly recommend walking to the other side of the bay where you can enjoy (on clear days) an impressive view with the Picos de Europa in the background, as in the photo.
The King’s Castle
The Castle of San Vicente is a monument of cultural interest. Historically, it enclosed the town wall and is considered to be the first castle to be built during the repopulation of Alfonso I of Asturias during the Middle Ages.
It is currently used as a museum and for exhibitions. Even if it’s for the views, go up!
The Soplao Cave
The El Soplao cave was discovered at the beginning of the 20th century due to the exploitation of the La Florida mines. It is considered one of the great wonders of geology, treasuring an authentic paradise of speleothems (eccentrics, stalactites, stalagmites, castings, columns, cave pearls, dog teeth, etc.).
El Soplao is a delight for everyone who comes to visit it. The route is overwhelming due to the spectacularity, abundance, and diversity of its formations, which are what make El Soplao “A Unique Cave” and one of the best places to enjoy the most natural part of Cantabria. It is an authentic game of shadows and lights, colors. In short, a festival of sensations.
In addition to its geological value, the cave, and its surroundings, house a historical industrial mining heritage, with more than 20 km of galleries. Mining activity has also left its mark on the exterior spaces with towers, calcination kilns, laundries, workshops, etc. The mining activities were oriented towards the extraction of blende and galena, two of the best ores for obtaining zinc and lead, respectively.
Oyambre Natural Park
If you are like us, and what you like the most is nature, you will love the Oyambre Natural Park. Its famous beaches of Gerra and Merón make it a very popular place in summer. But if you escape from the masses, you will enjoy yourself much more.
This park connects San Vicente with Comillas, and it is an authentic marvel to visit.
What to see in the Cabuerniga Valley
Bárcena Mayor is a town in the municipality of Los Tojos. It is the only population center found within the Saja reserve, which is also bathed by the Argoza River. It is this location near the river that has given the town its name: Barcenas means fertile lands on the banks.
It is said to be the oldest town in Cantabria and possibly in Spain and without a doubt, a must-see in Cantabria. It was declared a historical-artistic complex in 1979 due to its amazing state of conservation, and it is that during the Ormaechea government a “facelift” was carried out on the town and the access road was fixed. All this makes it one of the best examples of rural architecture in Cantabria, being one of the most visited towns in the region, not only for its architecture but also for its gastronomic culture (mountain stew or hunting meats).
One of the constructions that reminds us of the historical importance of this population is the Roman road that linked Campoo with Portus Blendium crossing the port of Palombera. This road was used later, both in the repopulation and in the Reconquest, when those brave Foramontanos went to work the Castilian lands.
We recommend you stroll through its narrow streets made up of houses and mansions from the 17th-17th centuries, thus discovering its mountain character. In a short tour of its two main streets, we will enjoy stone houses with large sun decks, normally decorated with flowers facing south to take advantage of the sun. We will see hallways, laundry rooms, bread ovens, haystacks, and stables… while the bells of the Tudanca cows resound on the robust walls, enlivening the walk with their bells ringing.
During the tour, you will find the church of Santa María, from the 17th century, where the baroque-decorative altarpiece from the 18th century stands out. Stop to enjoy the work of the wood of the great artisans that we have in Cantabria, not only in the work of balconies and eaves, but in those elements that are part of the ethnography of the region, such as albarcas, cachavas, the cutlery and everything that passes through the imagination of the master craftsman.
For lovers of hiking, it will be a good starting point for numerous excursions into nature, such as the climb up to the hermitage or the port of Palombera, the pleasant walk to the old camping area of Bárcena, the Llano Castrillo, or other of the many trails in the area.
Until recently, reaching this town was an almost impossible mission due to the difficulty of the roads, especially in winter. This isolation is what has made Carmona so well preserved and has that aura of an old town that we have fallen in love with so much.
Around Carmona, there are many walks and paths that we highly recommend, since the views are impressive, and the air is the purest in Cantabria.
For all this, we recommend that you visit this beautiful valley, which we like to call “The Deep Cantabria”.
What to see in the Pasiego Valleys
This town, so famous for its legends and mystical stories, is known as “The Santillana of the Pasiega Region” for its beautiful architecture and cobbled streets so endearing that they have been declared a historical and artistic complex.
The urban nucleus is settled at the foot of Marimón and Cotillamón, two mountains known as “The Boobs de Liérganes”, due to their shapes.
Cabárceno Nature Park
It seems incredible that one can find giraffes or elephants in the middle of Cantabria, but Cabárceno park has made it possible
Hundreds of animals, from the five continents, live in semi-freedom in large areas. It is a beautiful place and if you like to see animals, you have to visit it. The little ones love it, and the not-so-little ones too!
The Caves of the Castle
On the edge of the River Pas, as it passes through Puente Viesgo, you’ll find Monte Castillo, a conical limestone elevation that hides an intricate labyrinth of caves that have been frequented by man for at least the last 150,000 years.
These caves are of great historical interest as they are among the first inhabited in the region. They are considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Villacarriedo and Puente Viesgo
These two towns aren’t strictly related to each other, but we put them together because we can’t only choose one of the two.
Its cobbled streets, its architecture, its surroundings, and the number of walks and paths that both offer make it impossible for us, so if you have time, visit both, and if you don’t, visit both.
What to see in Picos de Europa
Picos de Europa
Potes is located at one of the gates to the Picos de Europa National Park, just over 30km from Barcenaciones. It is the capital of the Liébana region, an important tourist and cultural center that attracts thousands of visitors every year.
The urban nucleus gathers numerous buildings and monuments that were built during the 17th and 18th centuries. The construction that stands out the most in the entire town is the Torre del Infantado, from the late Middle Ages, which currently houses the Potes town hall.
Every Monday a market is held where the visitor can find typical products of the area such as Potes chorizo or picón cheese.
Originally, its main sources of income were livestock and derived industries, especially the production of dairy products, although today the tourism industry is gaining more strength. The visitor will be able to enjoy walking and getting lost in the narrow streets of the old town, which has been declared a historical-artistic complex.
Potes and its surroundings can be a good base to explore a part of the Picos de Europa. From Potes you can hire active tourism services such as quads, horseback riding, 4×4 routes, canyoning, etc.
28km from Potes, in Fuente Dé on the CA-185 highway, is the famous “Teleférico de Fuente Dé” that overcomes a drop of about 750m and transports visitors to a height of 1834m from which there is a fantastic and impressive view. view of the Picos de Europa. From here you can start various routes in the Picos de Europa National Park, such as Horcados Rojos, Pico Tesorero or the Refugio Hotel de Áliva.
The monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana, one of the Christian pilgrimage sites, is only 3 km from Potes.
About 9km from Potes is the main sample of Cantabrian Mozarabic art, the church of Santa Maria de Lebeña, which is also worth a visit.
Potes has a climate more similar to that of the peninsula’s plateau than the rest of the closest towns. That is, it has more extreme temperatures (hotter in summer and colder in winter) but less humidity. This climate favors the cultivation of the vine with which an exquisite pomace is produced that the visitor can try in many establishments in the area.
The second weekend of November takes place the popular Orujo Festival