Situated on the Bay of Biscay’s Cantabrian Sea along Spain’s Costa Verde, Santander has been a playground for wealthy, sometimes royal Spaniards since the early part of the 20th century. Capital of, and gateway to, the autonomous region of Cantabria, Santander – population 178,000 — avoids the often overwhelming crowds that flock to Spain’s Mediterranean shoreline. The Santander Group, the current name for the Spanish banking group centered on Banco Santander, S.A. (founded in 1857 in the city), is headquartered on Avda de Calvo Sotelo (street) in downtown Santander — we stopped by while walking through the city and withdrew some Euros from their ATM.
Palacio de la Magdelena (Palace of Magdelena) is located atop the highest point of the eponymous peninsula on which it stands. Designed by Javier Gonzalez Riancho and Gonzolo Bringas Vega and built between 1908 and 1912 for use as a summer residence of Spain’s royal family (who stayed there every summer from 1913 through 1930, after which the King and his family were exiled), the English-style palace has excellent stables and is surrounded by extensive gardens, wooded areas and a dramatic seascape. The palace is now home in the summer to Menendez Pelayo international University. The presence of the royal family in Santander every summer in the early twentieth century led to the expansion of the city as court followers and aristocrats bought land and built homes (many are mansions) in the city in the districts adjacent to the Magdelena Peninsula.
Gran Casino del Sardinero operates within a building of unique architectural beauty and is the city’s leading casino gaming experience. Guests play blackjack, poker, roulette, table games, slot machines and more. In addition to gaming, there are two banquet rooms, exhibition space and a restaurant.
Mercado de la Esperanza (the market of hope) has occupied the same location since 1987 in the center of the city, behind the City Hall. It was designed in the iron architectural style of the nineteenth century in Spain. It was declared a historic-artistic building in 1977. The upper floor holds stalls for produce and meat vendors while the lower floor contains only fish and seafood vendors. We were very impressed by the quality of the seafood and procured ingredients for dinner for us and friends, prepared by us in our kitchen in our apartment aboard our ship.