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Santa Juliana Collegiate

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Discover the Magnificent Santa Juliana Collegiate in Santillana del Mar

Nestled in the charming town of Santillana del Mar in Cantabria, Spain, the Santa Juliana Collegiate stands as a testament to the region's rich history and architectural heritage. This Romanesque masterpiece, dedicated to Saint Juliana of Nicomedia, is a must-visit for history buffs and architecture enthusiasts alike.

Historical Significance

The origins of the Santa Juliana Collegiate can be traced back to the 9th century when the relics of Saint Juliana were brought to this part of the Kingdom of Asturias by pilgrim monks. Under the patronage of King Alfonso III of Asturias, a hermitage was built to honor the saint. Later, a monastery was established, which flourished under the protection of the local nobility.

In the 11th century, the hermitage was transformed into a collegiate church, and the building we see today dates back to the 12th century. Its historical significance is further highlighted by its declaration as a Spanish National Monument in 1889.

Architectural Marvels

The Santa Juliana Collegiate is a visual delight, boasting a stunning blend of Romanesque architecture. As you step inside, you'll be greeted by three naves, a dome, a transept, three semi-circular apses, and a tower. The original barrel-vaulted ceilings of the transept and apses have been remarkably preserved.

One of the highlights of the church is its intricate sculptural decoration, which can be seen on the doorway, capitals, and cloister. Inside, you'll find medieval tombs and Romanesque reliefs from the 11th and 12th centuries. The main altar, adorned with an embossed silver front from the 17th century, is a sight to behold. Additionally, the altarpiece, created by a master artist from Burgos in the 16th century, adds to the church's artistic grandeur.

Fun Facts and Nearby Attractions

Did you know that the Santa Juliana Collegiate is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Camino de Santiago? This designation recognizes the church's historical and cultural significance as a stop along the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela.

While exploring Santillana del Mar, take the opportunity to visit other nearby attractions. The town itself is often referred to as the "Town of Three Lies" because it is neither a saint (Santo), flat (llana), nor by the sea (del Mar). Its well-preserved medieval architecture and cobblestone streets make it a picturesque destination.

Just a short drive away, you'll find the Altamira Cave, a UNESCO-listed site known for its prehistoric cave paintings. The nearby coastal town of Comillas is also worth a visit, with its stunning beaches and the whimsical Capricho de Gaudí, a unique building designed by the renowned architect Antoni Gaudí.

When to Visit

The Santa Juliana Collegiate is open to visitors throughout the year, allowing you to explore its historical and architectural wonders at your own pace. However, it's worth noting that Santillana del Mar can get quite crowded during the peak summer months. To avoid the crowds and enjoy a more tranquil experience, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of spring or autumn.

Immerse yourself in the rich history and architectural splendor of the Santa Juliana Collegiate in Santillana del Mar. This hidden gem is sure to leave you awe-inspired and longing to uncover more of Cantabria's cultural treasures.

Updated on 27 May 2024

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