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The port city of Santander is the capital of the autonomous community of Cantabriamarker situated on the north coast of Spainmarker between Asturiasmarker (to the west) and the Basque Country (to the east). Population in 2007 was about 184,000. Just over a third of Cantabrians live in Santander. The city is the home of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Santander.


In the Roman Empire, the town was known as Portus Victoriae Iuliobrigensium. Its present name is derived from St Emeterio (Santemter, Santenter, Santander), a martyr whose head was brought there in the 3rd century, along with that of St Celedonio, according to legend.

In 1187, King Alfonso VIII made the abbot of San Emeterio lord of the town, and in 1248 Santander participated in the battle for Sevillemarker, receiving a coat of arms as reward.

The city owes its existence to the excellent harbour of the Bay of Santander. Santander was an important port for Castile in the later Middle Ages, and also for trade with the New World. It officially became a city in 1755.

Paseo Pereda
Gran Casino de Sardinero
In 1893 the freighter Cabo Machichaco exploded in the harbor, killing 500 people.

In the early 1900's Santander became the favored summer residence of King Alfonso XIII, who built the Palacio de la Magdalenamarker as the residence of the royal family during the holidays. The city gained great popularity from this and from the Victorian enthusiasm for sea bathing and it remains popular with the Spanish for beach holidays today.

Great Fire of 1941

Santander fell victim to a great fire in 1941. Fanned by a strong south wind, the fire burned for two days. There was only one casualty, a firefighter killed in the line of duty, but thousands of families were left homeless and the city was plunged into chaos.

When it was over, the historic part of Santander was almost completely destroyed. The fire destroyed the greater part of the medieval downtown and gutted the city’s Romanesque cathedral.


, Santander has a population of 183,800. The number has remained fairly steady since 1981. Spain's low fecundity rate and aging population have combined with rising immigration figures to keep the population growth fairly stagnant. Nevertheless, the Santander conurbation continues to sprawl as young families move away from the high cost of living in the heart of the city.

La Magdalena



The La Liga club Racing Santander, founded in 1913, is based in the city.


Today Santander remains a popular tourist destination. It is renowned for its mild, (though rainy) climate.


File:Palacio magdalena Uimp.gif|Palacio de la MagdalenaFile:Santander.Conjunto.Historico.jpg|Santander CathedralFile:Santander.Banco.Mercantil.jpg|Banco MercantilFile:Santander.Ayuntamiento.jpg|AyuntamientoFile:Faro de Cabo Mayor.JPG|Lighthouse of Cabo|Edificio de|Plaza de ItaliaFile:Monumento a Pereda.PNG|Monument at José María de PeredaFile:Barcos en Puerto Chico.PNG|Ships in Puertochico, in the city of SantanderFile:Raqueros.PNG|Monument at the wreckers in PuertochicoFile:Puente-diablo.jpg|El Puente del Diablo in Cueto, SantanderFile:Cabo Menor.jpg|Panoramic of Cabo Menor


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