Almost every post to date has involved me walking down ‘Paseo de Pereda’ in Santander. It’s the best-known street of the city with spectacular views of the bay. Whilst the buildings themselves are impressive and interesting, I was even more struck by the doors and thought I’d bring them to you here.
Numbers 1 – 8 of the Paseo de Pereda date back to 1755 – when Santander was declared a city. These first four blocks formed part of a project to re-model the port area by Catalan engineer Francisco Llobet. The streets facing the port of Santander were being developed to handle the commercial trade with the American colonies and the basements of these first blocks were designed to be used as warehouses. In 1786 the name ‘El Muelle’ first crops up in state records. The word ‘muelle’ translates as quay, dock, pier or wharf. Today the ground-floor occupants include a bank, an opticians, the Carolina Herrera store in Santander, and the pastry shop ‘Confitería Máximo Gómez’ – which itself dates from 1850.
I’m not sure exactly when numbers 9-12 Paseo de Pereda were built. I do know that they went on fire in 1880 but don’t know what they looked like immediately before or after the event. I do know a hotel was operating on part of the site when the current owners – Banco Santander – took an interest. The present structure was designed in 1919 by Javier Gonzales de Riancho – although the arch wasn’t added until the 1950s. Today it is the social headquarters for the institution that is now managed from its purpose-built financial city 448km south of its birthplace – just outside Madrid.
Numbers 13-29 date from the early 1800s. Today they house a local ministry building, a Danish consulate, a bank, a sweet shop, a clothes shop and the birthplace of Juan Ignacio Pombo – an interesting character who flew the 15,970km from Santander to Mexico in 1935 and broke a world record in distance for light aircraft.
The street was completed in 1875 by local architect Atiliano Rodriquez Collado who designed the final block: numbers 35-37. This architect is best known for the Club de Regatas – The Regata Club – in the Plaza de Pombo directly behind the Paseo de Pereda that he built in 1884. Numbers 35-37 include a shipping agent, a private-banking arm of Banco Santander called Banif and a tapas bar called Casa Lita – which has won a number of local tapas competitions.
The street or the quay as it was then was widened into a boulevard from 1891 to 1902. Around this time tramlines were laid down, and were initially pulled by mules. This is when the street as we now know it became popular for a ‘paseo’ or a stroll.
It was as these changes were taking place to the dimension and function of the street that the name of the street itself changed. Jose Maria de Pereda (Polanco, Cantabria 1988-1906) was a writer and member of the Royal Spanish Academy who had honoured the street in his own novels. He was rewarded for his success with the renaming of the street to Paseo de Pereda in 1903. It didn’t stop there – in 1905 the Pereda gardens were completed just opposite the Paseo de Pereda. And in 1911, a monument to the writer was erected inside the Pereda gardens.
These improvements to the street and the city in general coincided with the construction of the Palacio de la Magdalena – the Spanish Royal Family’s summer residence in Santander. Alfonso XIII and his family holidayed in Santander from 1913-1930. There is a square near the Paseo de Pereda (with an new underground carpark that’s handy if you want to need to park on this street) named after this king.
In 1985 the street of Paseo de Pereda was listed ‘Bien de Interes Cultural’ – ‘of cultural interest’ and is now untouchable.
The stunning views of the bay from Paseo de Pereda are partly obstructed by the crane and diggers on the building site of the Botin Centre (see my posts on the Botin Centre). The nearby Pereda gardens will also be extended and re-modelled as part of this development.
It’s an interesting street, alright…