We arrived in Santillana Del Mar the Town of three Lies, since it is neither saintly, flat or by the sea as implied by its name. However the remains of Santa Juliana (Santa Illana), how the town actually acquired its name, are in the Colegiata, a Romanesque church and former monastery.
There is an aged grape vine cloaking one side of the courtyard, which serves as a reminder of the wine created from that very creeper and the Christians who sipped it before facing the Spanish Inquisition. Their terror is revealed in the faces of the monstrous gargoyles guarding the splendor of that striking cloister.
The upscale hotel Casa del Marqués where we stayed is a gothic building dating from the 15th century. Featuring wood beam ceilings and the original oak staircase, made from a single tree trunk. It was the home the first Marqués of Santillana. A hereditary title of nobility ranking below a duke and above an earl or count. I felt like we had gone back in time.
We visited Muse de Altamira, the drawings are some 14,000 years old and to ensure their conservation the cave structure and paintings have been reproduced. The drawings show bison, deer, horses, etc. and are painted using red-colored ochre and outlined in black. We spent a lot of time walking the medieval village of cobble stone streets and discovering the history of as many sites as possible. The entire town is a registered National Monument whose medieval architecture is some of the most important still standing in Spain.
The countryside of the Cantabria area is just as inspiring as the village. On one side you have the Atlantic Oceans Bay of Biscay and on the other you have the Picos de Europa mountain range.