Cantabriaan autonomous community of Spain Full of charm and natural wonders, it is home to towns that are authentic gems. Among these treasures is Cards, a town that stands out for its beauty, its rich history and its welcoming atmosphere. Located in the heart of Cantabria, Cartes is a place worth visiting, as it offers a journey in time through its cobbled streets and its old town.

This picturesque municipality is located in the vicinity of Torrelavega, a city that is the epicenter of the Cantabrian region of Besaya. Just 40 meters above sea level, Cartes has a natural environment that adds a special touch to its beauty. In addition, it is located on the banks of the Besaya River, which provides a quiet and peaceful setting for visitors.


Nestled in the heart of Cantabria, the picturesque town of Bárcena Mayor stands as a unique jewel in the mountainous landscape of the region.  This small population center, immersed in the sublime Saja Besaya Natural Park, transports us to an enchanted world where tradition and nature converge in perfect harmony.  A magical paradise in the north of Spain.


One of the most beautiful towns in Cantabria: mountain mansions in a village between rivers

The town of Cartes has been witness of history throughout the centuries. Its strategic location in the Besaya region made it a place chosen by the Romans to build a road that connected with Suances and Santander. This road never lost its importance, even when Alfonso I’s repopulation reached the region. Today, Cartes is a testament to its rich heritage, with historic mansions that bear the names of families such as the Bustamente, the Manrique or the Ceballos, as highlighted from the Repsol Guide.

The Cartes Tower

Torreón de Cartes (Tourism of Cantabria).
Torreón de Cartes (Tourism of Cantabria).

One of the most prominent landmarks of the municipality is the Torreón de Cartes, an imposing fortified mansion that crosses the main street of the town. This tower is a silent witness of medieval history of the region and a place that will transport you to times past. Its majestic presence is a symbol of the historical legacy that permeates every corner of Cartes.

Historical Complex

The urban area of ​​Cartes has been declared Historical Complex since 1985, which means that every corner of this town is loaded with history. In addition to the Torreón de Cartes, visitors can explore the Church of Yermo, which dates back to the 13th century and is a beautiful example of Romanesque architecture. Every street, every building and every stone in this town tells a story from centuries past.


The Arripas waterfall in the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park.


The incredible hiking route to the Ordesa waterfalls, one of the most beautiful in the Pyrenees

Historic mills

Cartes is also home to eight mills that were once vital to the local economy. These mills are an example of the importance of agriculture and industry in the history of the region. “This route of eight mills has been in the General Inventory of Cultural Heritage of Cantabria since 2003,” as highlighted by Card Tourism. Touring these mills is a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the past and understand the daily life of the inhabitants of Cartes over the centuries.

This route of eight mills has been included in the General Inventory of Cultural Heritage of Cantabria since 2003.

The real way

The real way, a 500-meter street, it is an ideal place for lovers of walks. Here, you can enjoy the authentic Cantabrian atmosphere, with mountain style houses, plants and flowers that the neighbors take care of with care. This road is a testimony to the importance that Cartes had as a connection point between different towns in the region.


Ainsa, Huesca


One of the most beautiful towns in Spain is in Aragon: an imposing castle and medieval streets

Holidays and traditions

Life in Cartes is also characterized by its festivities. The San Cipriano pilgrimage is the most popular festival in the town, celebrated on September 16 in Piglets. The pilgrims travel on foot, carrying hazel sticks that, on their way back, they bring with them loaded with tasty donuts, as highlighted by Turismo de Cantabria. This tradition is an example of how Cartes keeps its culture and customs alive.

Cartes, town of Cantabria
Cartes, town of Cantabria

Strategic location: Altamira Museum, Cabárceno…

Cartes, with its historical wealth and natural beauty, is a place that you should not overlook if you visit Cantabria. “With two cataloged historical complexes that will take you back to the Middle Ages, Cartes is the ideal place to visit Cantabria, it is strategically located in the communications axis just 15 minutes from the tourist attraction centers of Cantabria: Altamira MuseumCabárceno, Santander, magnificent beaches, unique nature of the Saja-Besaya Natural Park”, as highlighted by Turismo de Cartes.

Views from the Cable Car in Cabárceno
Views from the Cable Car in Cabárceno

Very pretty towns near Cartes

In addition to Cartes, Cantabria has other towns of great beauty and charm nearby:

Santillana del Mar: It is known as one of the most beautiful towns in Spain. It preserves a very well preserved old town, with cobbled streets and houses with traditional Cantabrian architecture. In addition, it has important monuments such as the Collegiate Church of Santa Juliana.

Quotation marks: This coastal town is famous for its modernist architecture, with buildings designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, such as the Capricho de Gaudí and the Sobrellano Palace. It also has a nice beach and a very pleasant atmosphere.

Bárcena Mayor: It is one of the oldest towns in Cantabria and is located in the heart of Saja-Besaya Natural Park. It preserves its traditional mountain architecture, with stone houses and slate roofs. It is an ideal place to enjoy nature and go hiking in the surroundings.

June 6, 2023, Barcena la Mayor, Cantabria (Spain).  Bárcena Mayor is a village nestled in the mountains of Cantabria, Spain in the municipality of Los Tojos, and is the only residential village within Saja Reservation within the Saja and Nansa valleys community
Bárcena Mayor

How to get to Cartes

The town of Cartes is located 34 km away by car from Santander, along the A-67, about 30 minutes. Santander has an airport connected to the main Spanish cities (Madrid, Barcelona, ​​Valencia, Seville, Malaga…) and also with the main European capitals. By car, the distance from Bilbao to Cartes is 118 km on the A-8, just under an hour and a half. For its part, the distance by vehicle from Madrid to Cartes is 425 km.

Cartes is a must-see destination for those looking to immerse themselves in the history, culture and natural beauty of Cantabria. This town will give you a unique experience as you stroll through its streets, explore its heritage and enjoy the hospitality of its people. Don’t miss the opportunity to discover this magical corner of Spain.

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