Since Roman times, where the first archaeological remains are located in the Magdalena Peninsula ; the old Portus Victoria . In the promontory of San Martín and in the area of Cerro de Somorrostro systematic excavations were carried out and were located under the current Cathedral of Santander remains of Roman churches such as buildings and coins, which means that the Romans carried out mining activities and commercial. It is also known that the incursions of Nordic navigators were frequent.

Santander is mentioned for the first time in 1068, in a document written by King Sancho II . Alfonso II El Casto , founded the Abbey of the Holy Bodies in the pre-existing hermitage in Somorrostro on the Reliquary of the heads of San Emeterio and San Celedonio . The legends indicate that these martyrs were beheaded for not abjuring their Catholic faith in the third century.

The philosophers consider that the evolution of the name of Santander comes from Portus Sanctorum and Celedoni , San Emeterio by evolution: Sancti Emetherii > Sancti Emderii > San Andero > Santendere > Santanderino > Santander . This sequence is generally accepted although its phonetic jumps are not clear. In many 13th century maps they refer to Santander as Sant Ander . King Alfonso X referred to the town as Sant Ander in 1255. In 1522 Juan Debo Del Rio embarked on the `Victoria 'under the command of Juan Sebastian Elcano , known as Juan de` San Andrés' . This creates a second theory about the procedure of the name but the absence of this saint in the development of the city makes one doubt its authenticity.

  • On July 11, 1187 King Alfonso VIII of Castile endowed the town with jurisdiction that tended to facilitate maritime traffic, fishing and commerce.
  • In 1217 construction work began on the main church of the village in the same place as the previous ones, where after a multitude of reforms continued to this day.
  • In 1248, Santander participated along with other towns of the Bay of Biscay, in the battle for the conquest of Seville, receiving as a reward a coat of arms containing the images of the Torre del Oro and the Guadalquivir River.
  • On May 4, 1296, the Cantabrian coastal towns formed the Brotherhood of the Marshes ; its objective was to strengthen its commercial position with respect to the competition of the Bay of Biscay and especially the trade of wool and flour with the villas of Flanders and England.
  • In 1296 and 1311 the town of Sant Emeterio is devastated by two fires from which the abbey is saved. King Ferdinand IV of Castile exonerates the town from taxes due to the catastrophe.
  • In 1372 after the victory in La Rochelle of the Castilian fleet in front of the English, they enter the port of Santander with the retinue of Enrique II of Castile among illustrious visitors; this fact causes Santander to become the Atlantic naval base.
  • In 1497 landed Margarita de Austri a, who came to marry Prince Don Juan , heir of the Catholic Monarchs . The fleet brought the plague with 6,000 people out of a total of 8,000.
  • Between 1596 and 1597 another epidemic of plague left the population in about 800 people out of a total of 2,500. Also in the mid-sixteenth century, there was a fatal epidemic of the same disease in the village.

XVIII and XIX centuries

At the beginning of the 18th century, the recovery of previous crises such as the plague began, which had caused a shortage of population, infrastructures and commercial ties.

- In 1748, the prominent position is consolidated with the royal order to build the road of wool, which would link Burgos and Santander , which would make the port the center of commerce in the North.

- In 1754 with the support of the Catholic Church, which established Santander as   capital of diocese and granted the abbot the category of bishop, which the Church Collegiate became the present Cathedral of Santander .

- In 1755 Fernando VI grants the town of Santander the title of City, and in 1783 the so-called Consulate of the Sea and Land of the very noble and very loyal city of Santander was created ; which will be the entity in charge of controlling maritime traffic with other cities.

At the beginning of the 19th century, Santander led the exchanges   North of the peninsula.
The strong economic development brought with it the formation of a merchant bourgeois class that would get the administrative regulation of the territory first as a Maritime Province in 1816 and then as a province of Santander in 1833; The shipyards of San Martin were also created and the city is structured according to a traditional model with the extension of land reclaimed from the sea.

- In 1851 the railroad of Aral was inaugurated, which improved even more the traffic with Castile.

During the second look of the nineteenth century, the boom began for spa resorts among the wealthy classes of Europe, which introduced a new concept of leisure; a series of hotel initiatives promoted Santander for its favorable beaches for wave baths, announced for the first time in 1847; which led to the creation of the spa town of El Sardinero , which became a summer destination for Spanish high society at the beginning of the 20th century. In 1908 the city built and gave the king the Magdalena Palace .

Twentieth century. Catastrophes and destructions.

Explosion of Cabo Machichaco

On November 3, 1833, the ship Cabo Machichaco docked at the pier of Santander loaded with 51 tons of dynamite in its hold and large deposits of sulfuric acid on its deck. The regulation on dangerous goods had been breached by authorities and charterers. At midday a fire started on the boat that attracted the crews of other ships, extinguishing equipment and authorities. Shortly after the explosion of the load occurred; causing 590 dead and 525 injured. Destroyed the houses around the neck; legends tell that the anchor fell near Cueto , several kilometers away.

The fire of 1941

In 1941 there was a big fire in the early hours of February 15 to 16 in Cádiz street, near the docks, and fanned by a strong South wind, it devastated for two days all the historical part of the city, whose narrow streets and houses of wooden structures facilitated the spread of the flames. There was only one victim, firefighter Julián Sánchez, in extinction work who died in Valdecilla after a slight recovery. Thousands of families were left without homes plunging the city into a real chaos.

The fire destroyed most of the medieval town and its reconstruction was preceded by a process of urban renewal that changed an important part of the configuration of the city .



The current shield of Santander consists of the Reconquest of Seville and Camargo in 1248 during the reign of King Ferdinand III of Castile ; The Sevillana Golden Tower and the ship in which Ramón de Bonifaz broke the chains linking Seville with Triana in 1248 are on it. It also contains the faces of the martyrs San Emeterio and San Celedonio decapitated in Calahorra.


It represents the shield on a background of two stripes, the upper one being white and blue the interior. The latter represents the sea, characteristic of this city.


Santander does not currently have an official anthem; but there is a proposal to make the song Santander `La marinera 'by Chema Puente.