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Santander Cathedral

This fortress-like building is actually two churches combined and stands on a pile of Roman ruins. Inside, see religious works of art and sacred relics.

Santander Cathedral has been a dominant presence since the 13th century, an austere Gothic structure on the incline of a hill. Explore this grandiose medieval church which occupies a site that once housed Roman baths and later an abbey.

The religious complex is actually two overlapping buildings, the principal basilica and the lower parish church, now a crypt. 

Start your visit in the main church building. It suffered serious damage during the devastating fire that almost destroyed Santander in 1941. Consequently, many of the altarpieces are new or come from other churches. Visit the handful of centuries-old side chapels. Study the piece of marble near the sacristy that is inscribed with carvings in Arabic. It is believed to have been taken by Cantabrian sailors during the Siege of Seville in the middle of the 13th century. 

Stop by the tomb of the Santander polymath Marcelino Menéndez y Pelayo who died in 1912. Browse the works of art including a copy of The Visitation, an early 16th-century painting by Raphael that depicts Mary the mother of Jesus Christ visiting her cousin Elizabeth who is pregnant with St. John the Baptist.

Access the lower church via the Romanesque doors. See the reliquaries that contain parts of the remains of St. Emeterio and St. Celedonio. Both were Roman legionnaires who were beheaded for professing their Christian faith. According to legend, their severed heads were brought to the city aboard a boat made of stone. Look through a glass section of the crypt's floor to see the remains of Roman thermal baths that were excavated in the early 1980s.

Enjoy a stroll around the colonnaded Gothic cloister which used to surround a secluded orange garden.

The cathedral is open daily although it closes for a few hours each afternoon. Admission is free. Arrive by bus or taxi or drive and park for a fee in nearby garages. If you are already in the center of the city, the Santander Cathedral is a short walk from other attractions such as Plaza Porticada and the Museum of Prehistory and Archaeology of Cantabria.


Guide to Exploring around Santander Cathedral


Best Lodging Options Near Santander Cathedral

See all 701 Properties near Santander Cathedral
Hotel Bahia ¥7,766
Hotel Bahia

Hotel Bahia

C/ Cádiz, 22, Santander, Cantabria
     
    4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Located in Santander City Centre, this hotel is steps from Parroquia Santisimo Cristo and Santander Ferry Terminal. Palacio de la Magdalena and Bay of Biscay are also within 3 mi (5 km). Santander Station is 6 minutes by foot.

    Hospedaje Menendez Pelayo
    Hospedaje Menendez Pelayo

    Hospedaje Menendez Pelayo

    Calle Rubio, 2, 3D, Santander, Cantabria
       
      1.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Situated in Santander, this pension is 0.1 mi (0.1 km) from Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Santander and Cantabria and within 3 mi (5 km) of Palacio de la Magdalena and Santander Ferry Terminal. Bay of Biscay is 2.7 mi (4.4 km) away. Santander Station is 6 minutes by foot.

      Hotel Silken Coliseum ¥4,825
      Hotel Silken Coliseum

      Hotel Silken Coliseum

      Plaza de los Remedios, 1, Santander, Cantabria
         
        4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Located in Santander City Centre, this hotel is 0.1 mi (0.2 km) from Mercado La Esperanza and within 3 mi (5 km) of Palacio de la Magdalena and Santander Ferry Terminal. Bay of Biscay is 2.7 mi (4.3 km) away. Santander Station is 8 minutes by foot.

        Hotel Bedoya
        Hotel Bedoya

        Hotel Bedoya

        Federico vial 3, Santander, Cantabria
           
          1.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Located in the heart of Santander, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Bahía de Santander and Santander Ferry Terminal. Palacio de la Magdalena is 2.9 mi (4.6 km) away. Santander Station is 6 minutes by foot.

          Santander City Center
          Santander City Center

          Santander City Center

          Santander, Cantabria
             
            0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Located in Santander City Centre, this historic condo building is steps from Santander Cathedral and Santander Ferry Terminal. Palacio de la Magdalena and Bay of Biscay are also within 3 mi (5 km). Santander Station is only a 4-minute walk.

            Abba Santander Hotel ¥7,315
            Abba Santander Hotel

            Abba Santander Hotel

            Calle Calderón de la Barca, 3, Santander, Cantabria
               
              3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in the heart of Santander, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Santander Cathedral and Centro Botín. Santander Ferry Terminal and Gran Casino del Sardinero are also within 3 mi (5 km). Santander Station is only a 3-minute walk.

              Hostel Royalty
              Hostel Royalty

              Hostel Royalty

              C/ Méndez Nuñez 6, Santander, Cantabria
                 
                2.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Located in Santander City Centre, this hostel is within a 10-minute walk of Santander Cathedral and Santander Ferry Terminal. Palacio de la Magdalena and Bay of Biscay are also within 3 mi (5 km). Santander Station is only a 4-minute walk.

                Hostal La Mexicana
                Hostal La Mexicana

                Hostal La Mexicana

                Calle de Juan de Herrera, 3, Santander
                   
                  2.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in Santander City Centre, this hotel is within 2 mi (3 km) of Santander Cathedral, Cantabria Maritime Museum, and Santander Ferry Terminal. Gran Casino del Sardinero and El Sardinero Beach are also within 2 mi (3 km). Santander Station is 7 minutes by foot.