Santillana del Mar
Santillana del Mar is a picturesque town in Cantabria, Spain, renowned for it's medieval architecture. Unfortunately, the village has become a bit of a tourist trap, and is so swamped with new developments around the outskirts, that on arrival you might be forgiven for wondering what all the fuss is about.
However, the original kernel of the medieval village still survives in the centre, although the beauty of the winding streets and yellow sandstone buildings is rather marred by the abundance of shops selling tourist nick-nacks that have proliferated into almost every doorway.
The area around Santillana del Mar has been populated for thousands of years and there are traces of some of the earliest inhabitants at the Altamira Caves about two kilometres from the town.
The highlight of the town is the Colegiata de Santa Juliana - a lovely medieval church with a walled cloister that can be found in the heart of the town. The entrance fee is 3 euros.
For the more adventurous, there are some lovely walks in the small hills around the town that afford stunning views of the Picaros de Europa and ??? mountain ranges, as well as the coast.
There is a very modern and helpful tourist office in the town that provides lots of useful information.
There are buses to Santillana del Mar from Santander, with the journey taking about half an hour. There are up to seven buses a day in July and August, although fewer outside of these months.
The bus from Santander drops you just outside of the town. When leaving beware that, although there is a bus shelter just outside the town where you will be dropped off on your way in, the bus back actually departs from the steps in front of the town hall?, about 50 metres closer to town.