When a village is often proclaimed as “most beautiful village”, I’d certainly like to check it out for myself. Researching on some of the quaint villages in the autonomous Cantabria region of Spain, I was attracted to Comillas as a visit for its epithet as ‘most beautiful’ and also because it housed one of the very few pieces of Gaudi’s architecture outside of Catalan. Set across the Atlantic coast and tucked in the hillocks of Green Spain, Comillas is about 50 kilometers west of Santander and is easily done as a day trip. The village was once a summer retreat for the aristocrats of Spain and I would learn why.
I caught an early morning bus from Santander, explored the beach in Comillas first, found it was a bit crowded as it was a nice sunny day; so I did not spend much time and instead proceeded to walk to the city center. As I was walking with my back pack, a couple of trekkers from Germany met up with me who were doing the entire Camino de Santiago. I did not know that Comillas falls along the route and I find the idea of doing the Camino quite enthralling. Another trip, perhaps. For those unaware, the Camino de Santiago is a pilgrim walk that covers a long trail along the northern coastline of Spain. The trail culminates in Santiago de la Compostela, a town in North-West Spain.
Soon I reached the city center and proceeded to first see Gaudi’s “El Capricho”. This house built by the famous architect is an iconic one, in line with the architect’s inimitable style. The entrance to the house is 5 euros and there are tour guides in both English and Spanish (included in the fee). This was useful for me, as I saw elements which I would have easily overlooked. Of course, the most obvious feature of the building itself is the unrestrained flow of colour and energy that oozes out of its rooms and the unmissable moorish and Persian architectural styles. However there is more than what meets the eye and for fans of the architect, this is a building that can’t be missed. The garden outside the house was wonderful to walk around in the backdrop of sweet smelling flowers and chirping birds. It is easy to spend quite a while here.
For the remainder of my time, I walked along the charming village along cobblestone paths not caring which direction I went and I learnt slowly about the rich history of the place and how the Spaniards who had made some money in Cuba had settled down here. Comillas was even the capital of Spain for a day! You might want to read up all of this if planning a visit.
There are wonderful relics of the medieval era here, lovely places to have lunch, the palace, cathedral and the fountain in the square really charmed me. Some of the houses here seem to be straight out of the 18th century or better, from a picture book! Its important to really look around and look for vestiges of the past. You might discover your own special relic.
A visit to the medieval village of Santillana del Mar is highly recommended on the way back to Santander as the same bus stops there as well. Having to schedule my visits with the timings of the bus, I did not have more than a very brief visit to this village but from what I saw, this is certainly a very pretty village and there are some caves here that are worth exploring and I would have loved to spend more time here. By late evening I had returned to Santander and had a nice dinner and ended my visit in Cantabria.