Traditionally a fishermen town, Santander is now more of a tourism city. Founded around the church of San Emeterio it was Alfonso VIII the king of Castilla who oficially founded the city in 1187. It was one of the main ports of the crown of Castilla along with Laredo, but the city remained quite small until the late XIX century. Then some industry developed linked with construction and ship building activities. Santander, nowadays capital of Cantabria, is the main city of a metropolitan area organized around the Santander bay that is home for about 270.000 people.
It has many beaches, Playa del Promontorio, Playa de la Magdalena, and the biggest and most known Playa de el Sardinero. La Magdalena palace, one of the former summer rest residences of the Spanish Monarchy is one of the most known buildings in the city. The autonomous International Menendez Pelayo University dominates at the top of the hill on which Santander is located. In fact the city goes towards the south climbing the hill with the highest buildings located at the top of the hill being quite viewable from the bay area.
Santander is the home town of Spain’s biggest bank Banco Santander Central Hispano, this bank has many buildings still in the city, some of them of a great architectural value. Over the last couple of years some innovative buildings have been built, like the Sports arena or the Congress Centre.