How to See the Best of Paris – Part 1

PARIS. Synonymous with gaiety, good food for gastronomes, gorgeous gowns, delectable wine, all the good things of life, is unrivaled, appealing Paris. The early morning mists on the Seine, the lazy-plying barges, the ever-patient fishermen, the spellbinding orators in the Chamber of Deputies, the gaunt, leafless trees along the quays in the fall, the flowering horse-chestnut trees in the spring, the breath-taking vistas from the bridges, the ageless, awe-inspiring beauty of the churches, the avid poets and painters, all this and much, much more is Paris. For centuries generation after generation of people from all over the world have gravitated to her narrow alleys and wide boulevards, for Paris “is not just a city, she is a world.” To women, she is the undisputed center of high fashion, the acknowledged authority on what well-dressed beauties everywhere should wear. As style leader, the showings of top Paris dress designers draw all the editors, manufacturers and buyers of the fashion world, while their collections continually attract wealthy shoppers and less-wealthy window-shoppers. The noted Rue de la Paix is identical with Parisian- elegance, an air every woman openly or secretly strives to exude. Not only the epitome of glamour, this fabulous capital has been a focal point of culture, too. In Paris, history, poetry and art sit on every doorstep, set the backdrop for everyday living, and great painters, musicians and writers have all been caught in the seductive web she weaves. The left bank of the Seine, lined by the famous open-air book stalls, is the intellectual and governmental section. Here is the Sorbonne, center of the University of Paris, perhaps the most influential and greatest school of liberal arts in Europe; the classical Church of Saint-Sulpice, with famous paintings by Delacroix, and noteworthy Saint-Germain-de-Pres, oldest church in Paris, dating from the eleventh century. The gallery of nearby Ecole des Beaux Arts, scene of the annual wild Art Students’ Ball, displays works of Fragonard, David and Ingres. Radiating from the university is the Latin Quarter, second oldest and one of the most picturesque sections in the city. For centuries these streets around Boulevard Saint-Michel have been the haunt of university students and teachers. Also in this area are the Cluny Museum, one of the fine medieval buildings still standing in Paris, housing a rare collection of medieval arts and crafts, and the Luxembourg Palace and Museum, surrounded by its beautiful gardens, housing contemporary painting and sculpture.

http://instantworldbooking.com/france.php


Appomattox, Virginia

Discover the Historic Appomattox Courthouse National Historical Park, forever written on the pages of Civil War history. Walk the dusty roads of Clover Hill Village, and witness life in the 1800’s. Experience Cub Creek Pottery, a residential apprenticeship pottery studio. Awe at the thousands of antique German steins on display at Steins Unlimited. Enjoy the unique African artifact collection on display at the Hazel Moon Resource Center. Delight in the unique architecture of our Turn of the Century Walking Tour. Visit the birth­place and gravesite of Joel Walker Sweeney, or immerse yourself in history at the Appomattox County Historical Museum.

For those who simply want to relax and unwind, the pristine waters and outdoor recreation of the James River and Holliday Lake State Park await you, along with disc golf, hiking, fishing, golfing and more. Finally, enjoy shopping in this picturesque community offering great antiquing, charming restaurants, romantic Bed and Breakfasts, and true southern hospitality.


Lynchburg, Virginia

Travelers in search of the ideal getaway can follow the lead of American visionary Thomas Jefferson who deemed Lynchburg “the most interesting spot in the state.” This is the place Jefferson chose to build his year-round retreat, Poplar Forest.

The close proximity of the region’s historic sites, wilderness areas, and urban diversions, make it possible for visitors to cover a lot of territory at a leisurely pace. Hike the Blue Ridge Mountains in the morning, shop for antiques in the afternoon, and top it all off with a delightful evening of dinner and jazz. Plan a two-day visit to see Old City Cemetery, Point of Honor, Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, or National D-Day Memorial.

Unlike Thomas Jefferson, you won’t find it necessary to design and build your own accommodations to retreat here throughout the year. Lynchburg offers over 1,800 rooms ranging from quaint bed and breakfast inns to luxury hotels. Once you discover Lynchburg, you’ll understand why our visitors return to stay for another week, a month, a summer-even a lifetime!


Explore The Heart Of New Mexico

Explore the Heart of New Mexico, an adventure guaranteed to revitalize heart and soul. From the bustle of city life to the tranquility of nature, whichever road you travel in Central New Mexico promises plenty of fine attractions and jaw­dropping scenery.

Take a walk through time as you discover the mystic beauty of ancient Native American ruins and Hispanic lore. Stroll through Madrid on the Turquoise Trail, travel Route 66, and bask in the scenery. Wide­ open spaces, natural beauty, and out­door recreation abound in the Heart of New Mexico. Visit heartnm.com.

Authenticity is Albuquerque, with its unique blend of multiculturalism, natural beauty, profound historic attractions, spectacular climate with four distinct seasons, museums, galleries, and shopping, creating a distinct and unforgettable experience for each visitor. Albuquerque  Bio Park, Albuquer­que Aquarium, Rio Grande Botanic Garden, Rio Grande Zoo, Anderson­ Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum, Historic Old Town, New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, National Hispanic Cultural Center, Sandia Peak Tramway, Petroglyph National Monument, and Sandia Peak Ski Area the list of things to do is endless. Diverse cultures, authentic art, and vibrant traditions have shaped the centuries-old story of Albuquerque. Mild climate and blue skies offer accessible and abundant outdoor recreational opportunities including golf, mountain adventures, and hot-air ballooning. A world of adventure, culture, and authentic experiences awaits.

Celebrating the Pueblo Indian Heritage

Owned by 19 Indian Pueblo tribes of New Mexico, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque shares the allure of New Mexico’s American Indian Pueblo tribes year round by presenting their unique languages, colorful traditional dances, distinct arts and crafts, and strong cultural values to thousands of visitors each year.

The Center’s venue, modeled after Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon, includes a museum, a restaurant featuring Native Fusion cuisine, changing exhibitions, cultural programs, a gift shop, galleries, and a mural-filled plaza of artwork by renowned Pueblo artists.

Visit indianpueblo.org.


John and Mabel Ringling

A SHOWMAN AND HIS SOCIALITE

IN THE EARLY 1900’s, JOHN AND MABLE RINGLING WERE THE PARAGONS OF HIGH SOCIETY AND EVERYTHING TO THEIR NAME DRIPPED WITH LUXURY.

HE WAS A BOATER HAT-WEARING SHOWMAN WHO GRACED THE COVER OF TIME MAGAZINE FOR HIS TRAV­ELING CIRCUS MONOPOLY.  She was a style icon, a connois­seur of exotic furnishings and a lover of visual art. Together, John and Mable Ringling were the darlings of the Edwardian Age and the royal couple of the Roaring ’20s.

Many society people saw them as disreputable circus folk with little taste in what constituted good living.  John and Mable Ringling labored to distance themselves from their humble pasts, to uphold their presents with dignity and to become two of the most noted trendsetters of the 2oth century. “They certainly led the good life, with all the accoutrements of luxury. But John was born poor and he wanted to show that he was more than just a circus guy,” says Jeff LaHurd, a Sarasota Florida author and historian. “Someone in his line of work may not have been as highly regard­ed as another captain of industry. He had to set himself apart.”

FROM RURAL TO REGAL

As a boy in McGregor, Iowa, John Nicholas Ringling was the fifth son of seven children born to German immigrants. In 1907, alongside his entrepreneurial brothers, John created the “Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Combined Shows,” which burgeoned to the most successful circus in its class. John’s investments in railroads, oil, steel and land, coupled with his circus fortune, earned him Time’s title as “one of the wealthiest men in America” in 1925. He was worth$2oo million at the time. Manhattan was one of John’s primary stomping grounds, and he occupied an apartment on Fifth Avenue in New York City. By serving on the board at Madison Square Gardens and cavorting with J.P. Morgan, John Jacob Astor and President Calvin Coolidge, John became abreast of the must-haves of the era. “He hobnobbed with people of very refined tastes, and his closest friends were politicians and entertainers,” says Ron McCarty, keeper of the Ca d’Zan at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. “He was always moving in wealthy circles.”

A CIRCUS KING AND HIS QUEEN Mable Burton, a soft-spoken, fashionable woman from meager beginnings, became John’s bride in t9o5. “She was said to have been a kind, elegant woman, but very strong, with a great deal of taste,” says Maureen Thomas-Zaremba, associate curator of education for the Ringling Museum. “She was active in the com­munity and gave lots of parties for women’s groups.”  With her husband, Mable traveled Europe avidly by railcar, scoping out sideshow acts for the circus empire. When they visited Sarasota-at the advice of John’s brother, Charles-the couple became entranced by the shoreline. They moved to the area in 1912. In 1925, they built the Venetian-Gothic mansion on the bay, the Ca d’Zan (or “House of John”) for $1.5 million. Designed by architect Dwight Baum, the exterior was sheathed with mosaics, stained-glass windows, glazed tiles and cast stone, and rose bushes were planted in the gardens.

The Ringlings owned a $50,000 organ that could be played manually or electronically and kept boxes of cov­eted cigars and the finest whiskeys, even during Prohibition. They adorned their home with Tiffany ster­ling silver, genoise velvet fabrics and Jules Allard furni­ture. The Calvinator, an electric refrigerator, was one of their newfangled devices in a decade when most people were still using iceboxes. They installed an in-ground mar­ble pool -half-saltwater, half-chlorine-for the benefit of their health. What intrigues me most about their style is that they carved out their own particular niche;” Thomas Zaremba says. “Mable had a definite style of her own. She was very confident in her taste and left that imprint on her home. It was luxurious without being overwhelming:”

The Ringlings’ summer home was a too-acre estate in New Jersey on the Hudson River, in a neighborhood known as “millionaire’s row.” The Ca d’Zan became a winter retreat. While in Sarasota, John developed Bird Key and St. Armands Circle and owned a hotel and stretches of real estate.

The Ringlings took a vested interest in art, and as rookies, enlisted Munich art dealer Julius Bohler to oversee their purchases. John appreciated the 17th century Baroque period, even though it was not in vogue at the time, and Bohler selected pieces for his client to buy at discounted prices. “The collection is known for being one of the five best collections of Baroque art outside of Rome;’ McCarty says. “It had a lot to do with Ringling’s taste as a collector. He was a showman, and the drama and spectacle in Baroque art appealed to him.”

Gilded Age architectural artifacts from Astor’s Fifth Avenue mansion (post ­Titanic sinking) added to John’s collection of work by Peter Paul Rubens, Titian. Velazquez and EI Greco. In 1928, he acquired 2,800 Creek, Cypriot, Roman and Egyptian antiquities, and later, stocked up on American, Dutch, German, Italian and Flemish paintings.

Inspired by Morgan. Isabella Stewart Gardner and Henry Clay Frick, John dreamt of con­structinghis own museum to house his wares. In 1927, he commissioned New York archi­tect John Phillips to design a building resembling an Italian palace, and the museum opened its doors four years later. It became the largest art museum south of New York’s Metropolitan museum of Art in 1931, and that same year, Ringling School of Art and Design was established.

Mable died in 1929 at age 54, and the Great Depression ground John’s art collecting to a halt. Creditors attempted to overtake his circus, so John bequeathed his wealth to the state. When he died in 1936, John left his museum, mansion, possessions and $1.2 mil­lion in cash to the citizens of Florida. “The Ringlings have left a tremendous legacy for us.”  Zaremba says. “What we have is very unique and incredibly luxurious.”


Conciergerie – Palace and Prison, The Medieval and Revolutionary Halls

The medieval halls

The lower parts, the only ones still standing today, were reserved for the Royal Guard and the numerous staff – clerks, officers and servants – who worked for the king and his family (about 2,000 people in all). The floor of the medieval halls is still at its 14th-century level. The creation of embankments in the 19th century raised the level of the rest of the Ile-de-la-Cite and its other buildings.

The Hall of Men-at-Arms, built from 1302 onwards under Philippe le Bel, is one of the finest examples in Europe of Gothic secular architecture. Consisting of four rib vaulted “naves”, the hall was generously lit by twin windows, traces of which can be seen on the left wall. This huge refectory was heated by four large fireplaces. On the left hand wall, there is still a fragment of the black marble table used during the sumptuous receptions held by the Capetian monarchy in the Palace’s Great Ceremonial Hall, on the upper floor. The latter, which has now disappeared, used to be served by spiral staircases, an example of which can still be seen on the right hand side of the hall.

2 The kitchen outbuilding, built during the reign of John the Good and of which only the lower level remains, was built slightly later and used by the king’ staff. Foodstuffs were delivered there directly by river.

3 The Guardroom was built around the same time as the Hall of Men-at-Arms. The capitals” on the central pillar are thought to portray Heloise and Abelard. This hall was used as an antechamber to the Great Chamber on the upper floor (no longer standing), where the king held meetings with his council and his “lits de justice”. The Revolutionary Tribunal also sat here in 1793.

4 The Rue de Paris which gets its name from that given to the executioner during the Revolution, “Monsieur de Paris”, was used to imprison pailleux”. This area was once an integral part of the Hall of Men-at-Arms, but was separated off and raised in the 15th century.

The revolutionary halls

After the fire of 1776, Louis XVI modernized the Conciergerie prison, later used during the Revolution.

5 The Prisoners’ Gallery was the prison’s main thoroughfare, where prisoners could wander freely.

6 The Girondins’ Chapel stands on the site of the king’s medieval oratory’. The 21 Cirondins  feasted here prior to their execution on 30 October 1793.

7 Marie-Antoinette’s Chapel was built in 1815 on the exact spot where her prison cell stood.

 8 The Women’s Courtyard surrounded by two floors of prisoners’ cells, still has the fountain where they washed their clothes and one of the stone tables at which they ate, and the “Corner of the Twelve” or “of last goodbyes”. This is where condemned prisoners waited in groups of 12 for the cart that would carry them off to the scaffold.

9 Marie-Antoinette’s cell was reconstituted on part of the actual site of her dungeon. She was permanently guarded by two gendarmes.


Conciergerie – Paris Palace and Prison

About the Conciergerie, Paris

Palace and prison

Residence of the Kings of France

In the 6th century, Clovis, the first French king, established his royal residence on the Ile-de-la­Cite. Five centuries later, Hugues Caper, the first Capetian king, established his council and government in the Palais de la Cite, which thus became the seat of royal power.

Symbol of royal power

In the 14th century, Philippe IV the Fair – continuing the work of his grandfather, Saint Louis – turned the Palace into a prestigious symbol of the monarchy. It became the seat of the Parlement de Paris.

Palace of justice and prison

At the end of the 14th century, Charles V left the royal residence on the Ile-de-la-Cite for the hotel Saint-Pol, since destroyed, following the assassination of his father’s advisors. He appointed a steward, or “concierge”, endowed with legal powers, to run the Palace and prison Numerous prisoners of State were kept here, such as Ravaillac, Henri IV’s assassin. In later times, the Revolutionary Tribunal sat in the Palace and used it increasingly as a prison. The Conciergerie was listed as a historical monument in 1914.

A major centre during the Revolution

The Revolutionary Tribunal

In 1790, the mayor of Paris sealed the doors of the Palace, up until then the seat of the Parlement de Paris”. The Revolutionary Tribunal initiated in March 1793 took over the Grand Chamber. In July, Robespierre joined the Committee for Public Safety with a programme based on virtue and terror. The “Law of Suspects” ordered the arrest of anyone pre-sumed to be an enemy of the Revolution or who confessed to being so.

Over 1793 and 1794, more than 2,700 people appeared before Fouquier-Tinville, the tribunal’s public prosecutor, including Queen Marie-Antoinette and Robespierre. The trials of famous people gave way to collective trials. In 1794, witnesses and defenders were eliminated and tens of people were guillotined each day. After the fall of Robespierre, the Tribunal was dissolved in May 1795.

Everyday life in the prison

The Conciergerie had a reputation for being the toughest of all prisons. During the Reign of Terror”, its cells accommodated several hundred prisoners kept in terribly unhealthy and crowded conditions. Up until 1794, “suspects” were kept together with common law prisoners. On the eve of their court appearance, prisoners were notified that their trial was to begin

and of the charges brought against them by the “evening journal” or bill of indictment. Once the verdict had been given, prisoners sentenced to death were allowed to enjoy a final feast.


Panama Ecotourism and Culture

From the lively mix of old and new to sugary beaches, Panama is one of Latin America’s most buzzed-about destinations.  This alluring gateway between nature and culture is an absolute must for ecotourism with a spark. Go for the lush rainforests, stay for the sustainable resorts, great restaurants, and stylish vibe that’s garnered comparisons to Hong Kong and Miami.

WHERE TO STAY: Panama City is often described as three cities in one-old Panama, colonial Panama, and modern Panama-with hotels ranging from centuries­old mansions to five-star boutiques. Centrally located in the shopping and financial district, The Bristol strikes a balance with lovely old-world elegance and one of the best restaurants in town, Barandas, which serves Panamanian specialties by award-winning chef Cuquita Arias.

WHAT TO SEE: Going green gets a massive splash of style in Panama City. Located within city limits, minutes from downtown’s shops, the Metropolitan National Park is a true “urban jungle.” However, an even sleeker take on ecotourism is the new Museum of Biodiversity, which looks more like a contemporary art museum than an ecological showcase.

WHERE TO GO: The city’s seamless flow between nature and skyline only hints at the extraordinary beauty that lies beyond.

San Blas Islands: The fully sustainable Coral Lodge has secluded bungalows right on the water’s edge with infinity-pool-like access to snorkeling and diving.

Bocas del Toro Archipelago: Relax in the pure surroundings of the solar-powered Punta Caracol Acqua-Lodge, then explore mangrove forests and off­shore coral reefs in the Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park, which is just a short boat ride away.

Mountain Region: In the Chiriqui province, visit the soaring Baru Volcano National Park-from its peak, travelers can see both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.


Burgos in Castile and Leon

The province of Burgos is situa­ted in the north-east of the community of Castile and Leon and has occupied a privileged place in Spanish history.

Nature has been generous with Burgos, providing it with an extremely varied landscape where we can discover high hills, bleak uplands, fertile meadows and riverbanks and northern green valleys. Several of the most outstanding Burgalese landscapes are protected within the Network of Natural Spaces of Castile and Leon: in the north of the province the karstic complex of Ojo Guareria, the Obarenes Mounts and the Orduna Pass. The Natural Park of the Sierra of Demanda to the East, the canyon of the river Lobos to the south and the Natural space of Yecla near to Santo Domingo de Silos. This natural wealth means that many outdoor sports can be practiced such as skiing, canoeing, climbing, hiking, rafting, horse-riding, etc. Hunting and fishing are especially important in our province.

The Historical-Artistic Heritage is copious and extremely varied: from the site of Atapuerca where the oldest human remains in Europe were found, the different cultures and peoples have left their legacy in the capital and pro­vince. We can find prehistoric paintings, Celtiberian forts, the Roman city of Clunia and the town of Banos de Valdearados, the Visigothic hermitage of Quintanilla de las Was and Romanesque art of exceptional quality distributed throughout the province. Gothic art can be seen at its best in the Cathedral of Burgos, but there are also important examples in the capital and province. There are also some outstanding Renaissance and Baroque monuments.

Both legendary and live names in popular tradition are associated with the history of Burgos, such as El Cid Campeador, Count Fernan Gonzalez or the Seven Infantes of Lara. The traditio­nal festivities show the wealth of Burgalese folklore. We can highlight the festivities of “El Colacho” in Castrillo de Murcia; the day of the Penas (clubs) during the patron saint festivities of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Burgos and the festivity of San Juan del Monte in Miranda de Ebro, all of which have been declared of tourist interest.

Apart from the great natural and cultural heritage, Burgos has, over the years, always welcomed and fed the traveler. The accommodation offer is extensive: from modern and comforta­ble hotels to guest-houses, camping sites and rural accommodations, in order to satisfy the demands of our visitors. Gastronomy is worth a separate men­tion, two products have the name “Burgos”, black pudding and cheese, but the exquisite lamb, game, meat and vegetable stew (olla podrida), mediaeval lentils, pork products, etc. must also be included. In the many bars and restau­rants, the visitor will have the chance to taste these dishes. The excellent wine of Ribera del Duero is the compulsory accompaniment.

 THE CAPITAL

Situated between the old Castle and the Arlazon River, Burgos is a city which has known how to preserve its personality.

The marvelous Cathedral, decla­red Heritage of Humanity, dominates the town with its open-work spires.

The Royal Monastery of Las Huelgas, a Cystercian monastery and pantheon of the kings and queens of Castile, the Cartuja (monastery) of Miraflores with masterpieces by Gil de Siloe and the mediaeval churches of San Lesmes, San Gil, San Nicolas and Santa Agueda, among others, preserve mas­terpieces of sculpture and Gothic and Renaissance painting.

There are also palaces such as the House of Cordon and the House of Miranda and old pilgrim hospitals, such as “del Rey” or San Juan, which are testi­monies of the city’s historical importan­ce on the Road to Santiago.

The Museum of Burgos must be visited in order to discover the heritage of Burgos and its province.

The riverbanks of the Arlazon and the large city parks add the counterpoint to the extensive cultural heritage.


Santillana del Mar, Cantabria, Spain

Santillana del Mar is a unique medieval Spain town of stone-paved streets. It is a designated heritage site, and has been one of Cantabria’s best-known cultural and tourist centres for decades.

Since the Middle Ages, Santillana del Mar has been one of the region’s most important towns. It was the capital of the old ‘Asturias de Santillana’, a merindad – medieval jurisdiction – comprising the territory of present-day Cantabria. The human imprint here is far earlier, however, and goes back thousands of years: the world-famous Altamira caves are just two kilometres from the centre of the village.

The town dusters around various well-defined cores. The Plaza de las Arenas square, presided over by the Palacio de Velarde; the Plaza de la Colegiata; the Plaza de Ramon Pelayo, formerly the market square and watched over by the Merino and Don Borja towers and the town hall; and the environs of the Regina Coeli and San Ildefonso convents. Santillana is endowed with an outstanding architectural heritage. Of the religious buildings, the centre-piece is the Colegiata de Santa Juliana, around which the medieval town grew. The first monastery was founded here in the eighth to ninth century and housed the relics of St Juliana -the root of the name ‘Santillana’.  Around the twelfth century, the monastery became a collegiate church (colegiata), and from then on the town’s most powerful families vied to enlarge and develop it. Most of the church is fully fledged Romanesque, with Renaissance and Baroque additions.

Among the lay architecture, the standouts are the torres (towers) of Don Borja and Merino or Velarde, both being fifteenth-century; and then the Peredo-Barreda palace, the Villa palace and the Bustamante palace, all built in the eighteenth century. Some of these old manor houses are now home to arts institutions like the Diocesan Museum, the museum dedicated to the sculptor Jesus Otero, the Fundacion Santillana, an arts centre sponsored by Caja Cantabria, and the Casas del Aguilay la Parra, which are nosv exhibition centres. The town’s powerful attraction isn’t just its landmark buildings, though. It’s the place as a whole, with all its more modest buildings-all of them are period architecture. Santillana’s wonderful townscape takes you back to times gone by.

Besides the architecture, there is a wealth of things to see and do at the town’s many temporary exhibitions and arts-centre activities, all the year round. There is also a wide range of available accommodation and hotels for all tastes; establishments tend to be small or medium, and are very often housed in old buildings that contain centuries of history within their walls.

Guided walk

If you leave your car in one of the parking lots signposted on the way into the town, a good place to start your tour of Santillana is the road­crossing opposite the Regina Coeli convent of cloistered Poor Clare nuns: the building is sixteenth-century and houses a very interesting Diocesan Museum.

Enter the town by the Calle Santo Domingo. On your left you will immediately see the Peredo-Barreda palace (now home to the Caja Cantabria arts centre), and the Casa de los Villa manor house to your right. A little further on, the street forks. To the left, Calle Juan Infante, flanked by small houses bedecked with flowers, opens out into the Plaza Mayor, one of the town’s most characteristic corners. Here are the Casa del Aguila and Casa de la Parra manor houses, in front of which stands a statue of the Altamira bison. Opposite, the Parador Gil Bias hotel occupies an old house that used to belong to the Barreda family. A short distance away is the town hall, with its wide balcony of wrought iron and its decorated arcade. Nearby, as if presiding over the square, is the Torre de Don Borja, now the seat of the Fundacion Santillana, and the Torre del Merino, a ‘house fort’ where the merino mayor of Asturias de Santillana – the highest local authority in medieval times – had his residence. Leaving the square at its left end we carry on along a narrow alley that runs perpendicularly into the junction of Carrera and Canton streets. In the Calle Carrera, to the right, there rises the fifteenth­century Torre de Velarde. To the right, heading towards the Colegiata church along the Calle Canton, you’ll pass the eighteenth-century Valdivieso palace, now a hotel. On both sides of this street, which is one of the busiest in town, there are a great many typical dwellings, including the house of Leonor de la Vega, a late fifteenth-century noblewoman whose son became the famous Marquis of Santillana. Next to Leonor’s house stands the Casa de los Hombrones (‘the big men’), named after the heavy stone coat of arms of the Villa family. The street from here on takes the name Calle de! Rio, and goes down to a picturesque water trough, to the right of which are the late seventeenth-century manor houses of the Cossio and Quevedo families, with the Casa de los Abades opposite; the space is closed off by the beautiful Romanesque Colegiata de Santa Juliana (collegiate church). A visit to the church and its cloister is a highpoint of this walk. Finally, after the Colegiata you will find the Plaza de las Arenas, the most notable building being Velarde palace.

A visit to Santillana del Mar should start or finish with the Altamira Museum, next to the original Altamira cave. Just two kilometres away from the town centre, Altamira is one of the finest European examples of Upper Palaeolithic art.

Finally, Santillana boasts a small but prestigious zoo with a very wide range of wildlife. Its standout section is its ‘quaternary park’ of species that were widespread in Cantabria in the times of the Altamira settlers: bears, horses, bison, reindeer, wolves, capercaillie, lynx, and more.