Sitting out on the decking, almost floating, on the impressively wide estuary at San Vicente de la Barquera in Western Cantabria, slowly savouring “a desert island of foie gras”, one of the most innovative dishes at restaurant Annua of one star Michelin fame, looking out to sea in one direction and to the majestic snow capped Picos de Europa in the other, you might find it hard to tear yourself away from this dreamlike scene.
The attractive seafaring town, busy summer resort and working fishing port of San Vicente de La Barquera with its two lengthy bridges linking the town to its fabulous sandy beaches of Rosal, Meron and Gerra, can be justifiably proud of having one of the best settings of anywhere along the whole Northwest coast of Spain.
The magnificent Iglesia de Santa Maria de Los Angeles (built between C8th and C16th) with its finely sculptured Renaissance tomb of the inquisitor Antonio del Corro amongst other treasures, perches high above the old town which also houses El Castillo del Rey, the imposing C13th castle, now open to the public, the ruins of the C15th Convento de San Luis and the C16th Hospital de La Concepcion where pilgrims on their route to Santiago sought refuge and aid on their arduous journey.
Down below, by the harbour with its brightly coloured boats, sits the medieval Santuario de La Barquera, where the Virgin de La Barquera, patroness of the town, is cherished and veneered. Legend has it that she arrived on an Easter Tuesday centuries ago in a tiny boat without sails or oars or a crew and since then has been the saviour of the local fishermen, forecasting the direction of the wind before they set sail. Each year in April, the fantastic fiesta of La Folia is celebrated in her honour – an event not to be missed as the whole town go out to sea with the virgin and then bring her safely back home.
Fishermen need nourishing and those in San Vicente are no exception. The stone arcades that line the main square and street are home to many family run restaurants serving fish and seafood, where “sorroputun”, the local and very tasty tuna and potato based stew, is on all the menus, but other specialities well worth a try are “mollejas con almejas” (sweetbreads with clams) and “arroz con bogavante” (rice with lobster). Absolutely delicious with a good bottle of Albarino!
Casas Cantabricas has a fantastic selection of self-catering cottages and charming hotels in and around San Vicente de la Barquera click here to find out more