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“The Air That I Breathe”

28 May 2022

“The Air That I Breathe”

I have just visited what is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful towns in Spain. And it’s always been something of an enlightened place. 

Santillana del Mar in Cantabria dates back to medieval times and its architecture is striking. The location is a registered National Monument and it certainly is picturesque.  

As far back as 1575 it introduced strict planning rules. Today these include a regulation that only residents or guests in hotels with garages are allowed to bring cars into the old heart of the town, or essential service vehicles. 

Other hotel guests have to unload their luggage and then park at the town entrance, where tourists like us leave their vehicles. 

Isn’t this a bit like an early Low Emission Zone? Like those in London, Birmingham and Bath, where only vehicles meeting certain green credentials are allowed free entry?

Mind you, I would think that the policy has more to do with the narrowness of the roads in Santillana del Mar and the cheek-by-jowl nature of the properties here. 

But it’s certainly eye-opening to explore an area without congestion and with clean air, much in the same way that people noticed the difference during the first Covid lockdown in March 2020 when we all had to stay at home, traffic levels plummeted and the atmosphere was nicer to breathe. 

Incidentally, a misconception has led to Santillana del Mar being nicknamed as the Town of Three Lies, with people claiming it is neither a Saint (santo), nor flat (llana), nor is it by the sea (mar). But I’m told that this ignores the place-name's real derivation, which actually comes from Santa Juliana (or Santa Illana) whose remains are preserved in the local church. 

● The title of today’s post? Click here

Photos: Alan Guthrie

“The Air That I Breathe”
“The Air That I Breathe”
“The Air That I Breathe”


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