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Tour of Historical Monuments

The Plan de Excelencia Turística of Comillas offers you several attractions that will help you discover, visit and enjoy Comillas in many different ways.

Casa Ocejo

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It was Antonio Lopez’ s house.

He decided to build it for his mother in the middle of the nineteen century. Originally it was a detached house. It consists of a hipped roof and four façades, one  overlooking the  square Plaza de los Tres Caños, nowadays named Plaza Joaquín del Piélago.

One of the characteristics of the main façade is its undecorated stonework and it also differs from the rest of the house as it has four pointed pre-neo-Gothic windows on the ground floor.

The other façades bear balconies and  the ground floor windows are framed by solid stones and grilles reminiscent of more popular constructions. It is also notable for the fence that surrounds the house  which dates from 1850.

In 1881  King Alfonso XII came to spend the summer in Comillas and, in order to fit out the building for Royalty, the Marquis brought many different artists and architechs from Catalonia.

Gaudí designed the chimney and refurbished the living-room but other Catalan artists decorated the rest of the house.

The Port

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The port is enclosed by a high dyke protected from the Northwest, Northeast and fierce North winds. The 9 metres access has a wooden sluice gate the fishermen close when the weather conditions and the undertow may damage their vessels.

The port’s construction cost the townspeople 30,700 ducados equivalent to 370 euros. It was begun in 1603 and finished in 1716, so for many years the fishing activity took place in the beach. The port was first defended by three watchtowers and a fort that had four pieces of artillery. Nevertheless, from its construction it was used more for fishing  rather than for protection. Fishermen put out in small boats with harpoons, and whaling was the harbour’s main activity, so much that it was the last whaling port in the eighteen century. The whale stone, as it is known, was the place where fishermen butchered their catch. In the winter they fished for red-breams, conger-eels, in the summer it was time for sardines and tunas.

A long while ago this harbour exported blended and calamine from local mines and imported coal and cement.

It had its own fishermen’s association known as the Christ the Protector Association, established in the beginning of the fifteen century. Over the years the number of fishermen has decreased considerably and consequently the importance of this confederation.

The harbour has also an auction house, this is a popular construction situated on the west side of the port that was built in 1942 on the ancient warehouse of the mines’ company, Real CIA Asturiana de Minas. It consists of three attached buildings, a central one with two floors and the two other with one.

On a corner of the port is a high relief bronze plaque in memory of Jesus Cancio (1885-1961), the so-called Poet of the Sea”.

This is a spectacular steep-cliff coast that reaches up to 50 metres high, and which is interrupted by the beach of Comillas. This beach can be divided into three different areas.

The first is from the Pajarito stone to the rocks in Portillo.

There is a central area with a seafront and several facilities.

And there is a port. Although Comillas has two other beaches, a small bay just behind the cemetery, called the Dead Beach, and another in La Rabia Lagoon, remarkable for its interesting ecosystems.

The Hermitage of Santa Lucia is a popular church that houses an image of its patron Saint and was funded by local fishermen. They used to go to mass early in the morning every day before setting sail. It consists of a simple floor plan, a gable roof and a wooden main door covered by a small porch. It is remembered for the small bell that used to be tolled in case of bad weather conditions.

El Espolón

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It was a gift to the town from the Archbishop of Lima, Don Juan Domingo González de la Reguera, and constructed by Cosme Antonio de Bustamante in 1794. In the year 1802 it became the “Real Seminario Cántabro”, the Royal Seminary of Cantabria, where the founder sponsored the Latin lectures and the school for children for many years, as well as the classrooms and accommodation for the Latin teachers.

The edifice is based on a quadrangular floor plan and a central courtyard in a classical manner. It is an impressive construction distinguished for the majestic stonework and the balconies , which extend over its façade.

It bears an Episcopal shield, stamped with a clerical hat,  a pencil and an open book. It has some cords hanging from its crest and ending in four, instead of the ten tassels an archbishop shield should have.

The field is cut:

1) On the crest is a Maltese cross. On the right a ship crosses a bridge and on the left there is a tree pulled down on whose logs rests an animal

2) The Crosier and the Lorraine cross over the bishop’s mitre is embroidered the following inscription in Latin: ”VIRGA TUA ET BACULUS TUUS IPSA ME CONFIATA SUNT” which means “I was entrusted with your staff and your Crosier”.

On the supports of the shield there is an inscription about the founder, constructor and the year this edifice was built: REINANDO CARLOS IV Y A EXPENSAS DEL EXCMO. SR D. JUAN DOMINGO GONZALEZ DE LA REGUERA, ARZOBISPO DE LIMA, GRAN CRUZ DE LA REAL Y DISTINGUIDA ORDEN DE ESPAÑA, SE HIZO ESTA ESCUELA PARA LA ENSEÑANZA PUBLICA POR DIRECCION DEL ARQUITECTO COSME ANTON. BUSTAMANTE. AÑO DEL SEÑOR DE 1794″.

Corro San Pedro

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Traditionally, a “corro” is a square surrounded by thick trees, where people played bowls, or danced with tambourines. In Comillas the Corro de San Pedro stands out because of the noble houses that surround it.

For instance the “Casa Cueto” constructed at the beginning of the eighteen century, which is owned by the family Sanchez Cueto. It has a balcony, a gable roof and on its façade two symmetrical windows and a massive door. On the main façade there is also a big ornate shield, carrying a decorated helmet, two lions, a pair of mermaids and a couple of birds.

Another impressive building is the Hotel San Pedro, which was inaugurated as a state-owned hotel in 1946 by converting the ancient house of the Balbas’ family. It has a shield with the Coat of Arms of Comillas, which shows the famous ship sailing towards the chains and the tower to liberate Seville. In one side of the square is San Pedro’s chapel that opens on the day of this Patron Saint. The image of San Pedro is carried through the town in a procession of dancers who traditionally asked women to dance who remain seated until that precise moment.

According to tradition, the devotion of this saint has its origin in the rites of fishermen who named their earliest fishing expeditions in honour of the saint and whom they have celebrated ever since.

Corazón de Jesús

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During the first decades of the twentieth century the king Alfonso XIII pledged himself and his kingdom more devotedly to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ.

This activity initiated a rebirth of Catholicism and led to a renewed interest in the Cerro de los Ángeles, a monument constructed in Madrid. As a result of this, many statues of the Sacred Heart were erected throughout the country. One of those is in Comillas. It is a dignified statue, which the II Marquis of Comillas entrusted to a Catalan artist.

This sculpture is located in a neighbourhood known as “La Peña” just behind the municipal building.

Carcel

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This prison consisting of two cells and an interior courtyard was built by the townspeople in 1879; Today is the pilgrim’s hostel on their way to Santiago.

The traditional route began in the ancient capital, Santillana del Mar passed through Oreña, Novales, crossing Cigüenza and then Cóbreces. Between Cóbreces and Comillas the pilgrims had to cross Tramalón, whose hermitage still houses the image of Saint James.

Once they had crossed Ruiloba and passed through Concha they were in El Portillo, where there is a watchtower that once was used as a signal post to tell the harpooners by means of the smoke of a fire that there were whales near the coast.

During the seventeenth century,  Comillas was the whaling capital of the Bay of Biscay and thanks to it, the town was freed from the marquisate’s domain. A hospital for pilgrims and passers-by was built a century earlier by a devout woman in the town. In the nineteenth century a legend referring to the pilgrim’s route to Santiago mentioned Comillas. According to the legend, there was a knight who was guarding the relic of Saint James as his disciples carried him from Jerusalem to Santiago. He found no way to cross Comillas’s valley, so riding his horse he got into the water and finally arrived to Galicia. When he got out of the water, he saw that he and his horse body were covered with shells. Since then the shell has become the apostle’s shield, and thus the pilgrims began to wear them.

This mythical legend tells us that the coast route was regularly used at that time.

El Duque

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Architect: Francisco Hernández Rubio
Year of construction: 1899-1902
Period: English Historicism

At the end of the nineteen century English buildings were in vogue amongst the well to do in Comillas. This building Known as El Duque is a good example of this.  Francisco Hernández Rubio designed the mansion for the Duke Almodóvar del Río.

The structure reflects a Swiss chalet, although it also carries characteristics of English mansions in many ways, specially in its asymmetric spaces, the stone, brickwork, etc, all of which is in contrast with the Eclecticism of The Sobrellano Palace and the modernism of Gaudí’s building.

On the Southwest façade there is a quartered shield bearing a helmet, the Crown of the Duke and a crest that represents the king. It is decorated with small flags and ornate emblems.

The former Town Hall

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This splendid building is located in the square Plaza de la Constitución and was built around the year 1775 on the ruins of the hermitage of Saint John, an ancient pilgrim’s resting place. It consists of a Romanesque arcade, an open ground floor for the townspeople and a first floor with door-like windows that open to an extended balcony supported by a large parapet.

The stonework was done by Simón Fernández de Castro. The five shields of the archbishops who gave Comillas the name of “The Village of the Archbishops” hang on the wall of the main façade.

Juan Antonio González de la Reguera (1720-1805), bishop of Peru.
Rafael de la Vara, bishop in Guatemala
Bernardo Martínez de la Rabia (1759-1826), bishop of Sonora, Mexico
Saturnino Fernández de Castro (1827-1886) bishop of  León and Archsbishop of Burgos

In the boardroom, probably decorated by Martorell, who in turn would have been entrusted by Eusebio Güell, are displayed two copies of the portraits of Antonio López y López and Claudio López-Bru. A portrait of Joaquín del Piélago was painted by Antonio Caba Casmitjna (Barcelona 1838-1907). The reception room was built for the visit of King Alfonso.

On the balcony there are two shields. One with the Royal Crown, the other with a helmet and the Coat of Arms of Comillas, the tower of Seville and the sea, which symbolizes the liberation of that city.

In the square in front of the building it is a collection of traditional houses all attached with their balconies and their heavy walls that, as well as the town hall and the church, make Comillas a most rewarding tourist destination. The village was declared Site of Cultural Interest in 1985.

Year of construction: desde la segunda mitad S. XVII hasta 1831
Builder: Rubin, an architect from Pesues

The church consists of a rectangular floor divided into three naves and a rectangular chancel. Rising from the roof is an impressive four-sectioned prismatic tower that was finished in the 18th century when the balustrade and the pyramidal pinnacle were added. The construction consists basically of stone with masonry buttresses. Within the church there is an image of Christ the Protector, the patron saint of local fishermen to whom they pray when they are in trouble on the waters. There is also a grand organ which dates from the beginning of the twentieth century. Martorell designed the pulpit, the altar screen of the chancel, the choir and the stained-glass windows.

The architectural context of this church stands out because of its two portals. The north doorway is framed by classical buttresses. It has a Romanesque arch between pilasters and a tympanum divided into two sections housing the modern image of San Cristóbal, sculpted by Jesus Otero, native of Santillana del Mar. On the opposite façade there is another doorway framed by the Coat of arms of the village and the Crown with an inscription that dates from 1713.

Outside the door there are two shields. The one on the right bears the Crown and the neck chain of the Order of Toisón. In another part of the shield is the Coat of Arms of Castilla, which is represented by a castle. One can also see a rampant lion, which represents the Coat of Arms of Leon. There are also lilies, which depict the House of Bourbon and the Coat of Arms of Philip II. The second shield represents the liberation of Seville as seen in the Coat of Arms of Comillas

La otra pieza armera apoya como la anterior sobre tres cabecitas, presenta una nave rompiendo la cadena de Sevilla. En el cantón superior izquierdo una torre de tres cuerpos, y en jefe, algo que no se distingue muy bien. Armas de la villa de Comillas

One of the most interesting things about the church is that it was constructed by the townspeople who put aside one day a week to work on this building. The reason it was built was because of the confrontation with the Duke of El Infantado in the ancient church that stands on the hill in front of the Dead Beach where the current cemetery is located.

Corro Campios

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In the nineteen century the “corros”, the social centres, were in the main square of the town. They were always placed near the church so when, after the Mass and bells tolled its termination people used to play bowls in the corros.

However to prevent the bowls going out of court, bowling grounds were enclosed by stone walls like the bowling alleys we have today.

Campios is a traditional neighbourhood in the high part of the town whose curving streets lead to the Corro, where people walk, dance on Sundays and used to play bowls.

King Alfonso XIII played bowls during his visit. Each Year on the sixteenth of July, the fiestas for Christ the Protector are held in this square. For many years during those multitudinous  festivals this social centre was embellished with arches, pennants and festive  lights that were switched on with the triumphal arch to welcome the foreigners.

Today it is also a leisure space as well as a meeting point.

New Town Hall

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This building, which was once was a free school for infants, originally for girls and later for both sexes was paid for Doña Manuela del Piélago y Sánchez Movellán. It was run by nuns. There used to be an angel in the middle of the garden, which is now on one side of the Plaza del Ángel, a square beside the building. On one corner of the building there is the Virgin with the Child, which is said to have been sculpted by José LLimona.

On the other side of the Plaza de Joaquín del Piélago there is a mansion that used to be owned by the parents of the archbishop of Lima, Tomas González de la Reguera and Maria del Pomar. It was built in 1726. On the front façade there is a balcony supported by beams which in turn support the roof.

The main façade also bears two shields. One is polychrome and is hung above the lintel of one of the windows on which there is an inscription, a pointed medallion and the Episcopal Cords. The shield is divided into four quarters. On the first quarter there is a tower framed by two flags and two lilies which represent the Coat of Arms of the González family. On the following quarter is depicted a fallen tree on which stands a lion, while the third carries the tower, the flags but not the lilies, which in turn appear on the fourth and last quarter and stand for the Coat of Arms of González de la Reguera

Beside the left window there is an identical shield, but this time the designated name is “Armas González de la Reguera”.

The mansion is notable for the four-sectioned medieval square tower, which was constructed during the fifteen century. It still has two canyon-like gargoyles on its south façade but the roof has been completely refurbished.