C A N T A B R I A   U N I V E R S I T Y
Besaya Basin
Saja and Nansa Valleys
Route through the Saja and Nansa Valleys.  
    Bárcena Mayor ensemble   To the West, are the Saja and Nansa valleys, which make up a complete whole in terms of vegetation, high and popular architecture, ethnography and folklore. Being far inland, these are the most unspoilt areas of Cantabria. In both valleys one finds valuable ensembles of popular architecture that are uniformly of the Baroque period. Such houses are two-floored, with an entrance-way on the ground floor, and a gallery running the breadth of the façade on the first floor, sectioned by firebreak walls. This type of house may be found in an isolated situation, but usually stands adjacent to other dwellings so as to form a neighbourhood. In the Saja valley, starting in the vale of Cabezón, we may remark on the perfectly-preserved architectural ensembles of Periedo, Santibáñez and Cabrojo. As for high architecture, the casonas of Carrejo stand out, with their coats of arms carved in stone -especially the present Nature Museum, the palace of Gayón in Santibáñez with its portico of five rounded arches on its main façade, the Bodega palace in Cabezón, the Gómez de la Torre palace in Casar and further such buildings scattered throughout Ontoria, Carrejo and Periedo. In the next vale, Cabuérniga, are the architectural ensembles of Sopeña, Terán, Fresnedo, Carmona, Bárcena Mayor, etc. There are also good examples of lay high architecture of the same period, like the interesting casonas with stone coats of arms and sun-oriented long balconies in Renedo, Carmona, Selores, Valle, etc. Of all these, Mier Palace in Carmona stands out (also known as Rubín de Celis Palace).

In the Nansa valley, travelling from North to South, one finds first of all the district of Herrerías, where the medieval tower of Cabanzón stands. The casona of Rubín de Celis is in Cades. Camijanes has a notable indiano house of the turn of the century. In the small village of Rábago there is an interesting small building, also of the turn of the century, that shows a clear French influence in its mansardé roofing. The popular architecture of this district is of as high a quality as that found in the other valleys described here. There are the remains of a medieval tower in the district of Rionansa, too: the tower of Obeso. In Cosío, Celis and San Sebastián de Garabandal there are interesting buildings as well. Towards the South, the next district along is Tudanca, whose most important town in artistic terms is Tudanca itself. Tudanca was officially declared a place of historical and artistic significance in 1983. First, it is known for the Casona de Tudanca, where the writer Don José María de Cossío lived, an eminently erudite man who put together a splendid library, a great collection of drawings, engravings and paintings of widely varied periods and high quality, all of which can now be visited. Important figures of literature and the arts have been to this house at some time or another (Unamuno, Alberti, Marañón, Cela...). Nowadays it is a museum belonging to the Government of Cantabria. Apart from the attraction of the Casona museum, Tudanca is well worth visiting for its popular architecture and its special flavour, still unspoilt. Finally, in the upper reach of the valley is the village of Polaciones, to which everything said above about the popular and high architecture of this area can be applied. Groups of country houses of considerable interest stand here, as do various 17th- and 18th-century houses with stone coats of arms in the villages of Lombraña and Puente Pumar.

Mier Palace or Rubín de Celis Palaces
Medieval Tower of Cabanzón
Medieval tower of Obeso
Casona de Tudanca
  A R T I S T I C   R O U T E S