Within the fairy-tale beauty of Santander’s streets and natural surroundings lies a population eager for a chance to display its full potential. That chance has now come: our bid to become the European Capital of Culture. Local artists, musicians, writers, actors, photographers and cultural managers, among others, see this opportunity provided by European institutions as the proper moment for the awakening of a creative and vibrant city.
Located in the northern Spain and sheltered by one of the most beautiful bays in the world, the capital city of the Cantabrians has displayed, over the years, a yearning for artistic activity and quality of life that has transformed it into a cornerstone of Spanish culture. The International Festival of Santander, the Menendez Pelayo International University programme, and the International Paloma O'Shea Piano Contest are only a few of the major cultural events that take place each year at magnificent locales including the Palacio de la Magdalena and the Palacio de Festivales.
That said, Santander wants still more. Europe is at once our natural stage and our greatest point of reference, and we seek both to give and to receive: to display all of our capabilities, and to enjoy all that connects us to a region shared by 500 million people. We wish both to become a cultural epicentre and to quicken our pace down the road toward modernisation and integration.
For centuries, the people of Santander have been up to the challenges the city has faced on its march toward the future. As northern Spain’s natural port, Santander gradually deepened its relationship with Europe and the Americas. Here is where the ships used for the discovery of America were built; here is where world-famous cartographers and navigators were born. The city’s development coincided with rising international trade, enabling it to establish networks tying it still tighter to the rest of Europe and to America. This is the land of Juan de Herrera, of Quevedo, of Calderón de la Barca, María Blanchard and Gerardo Diego.
Santander intends to use its bid to become the European Capital of Culture 2016 to take yet another leap forward. It seeks to modernize and progress, to make manifest its open and integrated citizenry, and to become still better known as a friendly and welcoming place where Spanish and European culture coexist and intermingle.