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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
Architect: Cristóbal Cascante
Builder: Placido Díaz de La Campa
Year of Construction: 1885
Claudio López and Benita Díaz de Quijano paid for this building, which is currently a residential home for the elderly, run by the Sisters of San José. In the main hall stands a bust of Don Claudio López y López sculpted by Agapito Vallmitjana (1888).
Even though the original plan was lost the building has been refurbished, but its wooden front gallery still recalls the Sobrellano palace. There is a porch that leads into the chapel of Nuestra Señora del Carmen, whose image is on the mahogany Gothic altarpiece. There is a central courtyard enclosed by the building. On the north façade there are two extended sections that give “movement” to the construction as well as the gallery which make up this impressive construction.
Year of construction: 1870 – 1871
Style: French historicism
This was the summer house of the Riera family, which became the property of the Marquis of Movellán who has occupied it from then on. This building was constructed according to a plan that came from France.
It is a castellated mansion on the top of the hill overlooking the sea and is enhanced by the beauty of the landscape it decorates.
The ensemble transmits its picturesque essence through its crenelated walls, the wrought-iron cresting and the Gothic ruin-like enclosure.
There is a shield carved on the wall that carries a crown. From the crown overhangs a gauntlet brandishing a missing dagger. We can see the same motif in one of the quarters of the shield, where it overhangs the bust of an armed knight.
In one of the chimneys in the Sobrellano Palace there is the same emblem sculpted in wood that also bears the legend of the Bracho’s.
After the Civil War only the two square towers and the enclosing walls remained. In 1990 the building was refurbished and divided into apartments.
Supervised by: Julián Bardier Pardo
Year of construction: 1900
This is located in the house in whose square tower hangs an enormous sculpture of the Sacred Heart.
Moro’s gate was built in 1900 and it is made of cut stone, a material that had been traditionally used for the construction of small walls. Gaudí reused it in this doorway to add some touches of fantasy. From then on this technique would be utilized amongst the cubist painters.
There is an entrance for cars, another for people and a small opening in the wall for birds called the gate for little birds. Its rounded and curving shapes show nuances of Modernismo.
Architect: Doménech y Montaner
Supervised by: Cascante
Year of construction: 1890
The emigrant Antonio López y López became incredibly rich and well known after his return from Cuba and when he settled in Barcelona. In 1878 King Alfonso XII awarded him with the marquisate of Comillas, his birthplace, in gratitude for his help and economic support during the Cuban conflict.
From then onwards the history of Comillas became interwoven with the marquis to whom this statue was dedicated.
The monument was erected on a property of Angel Pérez, a friend of the marquis, who had given it to the town for that purpose and was paid for by the Town Council.
Doménech used Cascante’s plan to build this original ship-like pedestal and the column that carries the image of the marquis. It is magnificently decorated with maritime motifs and it used to be remarkable for the bronze statues, allegories of the Antilles and the Filipines that as well as the image of Antonio López were unfortunately torn down during the Spanish Civil War.
Architect: Doménech y Montaner
Supervised by: Llimona
Year of construction: 1893
Luis Doménech y Montaner refurbished the cemetery that stands on the ruins of an ancient Gothic church. He designed a surrounding wall, which is decorated with picturesque elements such as the pinnacles, the four-armed crosses and the main entrance arch.
Doménech wanted to emphasize the ruin, so on a corner of the ancient wall he added the marble sculpture of the Guardian Angel designed by José Llimona (1894-1985). The architect also designed the family crypt for Don Joaquín del Piélago where he added some modernist nuances such as a twisted wave on the surface of the tomb.
He achieved a mood of timelessness, expressed by the ambivalent and solemn calm of the angel that stands on a corner like a bird, in contrast with the faded ruins. These ruins tell us a story of an old lady who was attending the services on a Sunday afternoon. She was seated in the pew reserved for the Duke of the Infantado, the feudal Lord, and was ordered to budge. There were many arguments and it was finally decided to remove that particular pew but it was too late for the congregation that had sworn never to return and had already moved to the Hermitage of Saint John, the ancient Town Hall.
As a result the townspeople decided to build a new temple, away from the dead and protected from the strong winds, in the neighbourhood now called Barrio de la Iglesia.
They put aside a day a week to work on the church, thus, they spent more than two centuries on its construction.
Supervised by: Cascante
Decorated by: Luis Doménech y Montaner
Paintings: Eduardo Llorens(auditorium), Juan Llimona y José M. Tamborín (church)
Year of Construction: 1883-1892
Style: Eclectic neo-Gothic neo-Mudejar
Once the Marquis’s palace had been built, the Marquis, who would be remembered for his pious works, decided to found an important school of higher education. This finally became a Seminary for the poor and a Pontifical University, run by the Jesuits, who used teaching methods that had been in vogue since the seventeenth century.
The building structure followed the Jesuits’ models, which were based on a rectangular floor plan consisting of two courtyards and a church between them.
Joan Martorell begun to built it as an Eclectic and Gothic-Mudejar building. Later, in 1889, Doménech y Montaner added some modernist touches such as the auditorium, the church, main hall, staircase, bronze door, tiles and the coffered ceiling to break the harshness of the original building.
Architect: Doménech Y Montaner
This is the main entrance to the University, which once was enlarged to enable vehicular passage. It is a combination of brickwork, ceramic tiles and the carved stone of its shield, which contains the crown, the pontifical keys and the Jesuits’ anagram, JHS standing for “Jesús Salvador de los Hombres”, Jesus, Saviour of Men.
This splendid shield is carried by two pageboys, wearing sumptuous robes on which appear the year when the university was inaugurated and the Pope to whom it was offered, Leo XIII.
Beneath the pageboys, there are two grotesque figures, reminiscent of Eastern art, framed by an arch decorated in an exotic and medieval style.
The doors, which nowadays are missing once, were decorated with Passionflowers, symbolizing Jesus Christ.
Supervised by: Camilo Oliveras
Furnished by: A.Gaudi
Sculpture: Llimona y Vallmitjana
Year of construction: 1878-1881
The chapel was constructed as part of the Sobrellano ensemble. It is a good example of how Modernism evolved from Classicism.
The architect who build this cathedral in miniature, that recalls the devotion of the man who funded it, the second Marquis of Comillas, Don Claudio López Bru, was inspired by English Perpendicular Gothic.
It houses the mausoleums of the first marquis, his brother Claudio López y López and Doña Benita Diaz de Quijano (1881). It is considered to be one of the most significant examples of Modernist Catalan architecture in Cantabria. The sculptures of “La Plegaria” and ” La Resignación” evoke Rodin and their themes are related to the light and the atmosphere that derive from them. The three were sculpted by the Catalan and modernist artists Jose LLimona y Barbany and Agapito Vallmitjana.
Within the chapel stands out the presbytery, which was magnificently decorated with an altar and a bronze polished table bearing the symbols of the Gospel, the Agnus Dei and the Sacred Heart. Gaudí also designed some of the furnishings, which were mainly inspired by the Gothic but with some modernist nuances.
The chapel-mausoleum was inaugurated in 1881, during the royal visit of Alfonso XII.
Supervised by: A. Cascante
Building year: 1883-1885
Builder: José Pardo
This summer house was built for Máximo Díaz de Quijano, the Marquis’ s wife’s brother-in-law. Working with a plan designed by Gaudí, Cascante Colom begun to construct it in 1883.
It has a lower-ground floor, a first floor and an attic. The building is outstanding because of the highly decorated tower which contrasts with the horizontal layers of the building. On the first floor there is a living room with a very high ceiling, a dining room and several other rooms. The garage, the kitchen and the servants’ quarters are located in the lower-ground-floor and the attic.
The façade, which combines brickwork and sunflower tiles rests in a solid stone base. These floral motifs also decorate the upper frieze, the tower and the lintels at every opening.
Above the porch rises the tower which is supported by solid columns whose capitals are decorated with naturalistic palm leaves and swallows. Inside it, there is an spiral staircase that leads to a balcony.
The porch and the tower stand out because of the round wrought-iron banisters, with curving uprights, decorated with vine leaves.
The wrought-iron balconies are also remarkable for their wooden benches and their canopies. Gaudí also designed blinds that emit musical sounds when they are opened or closed.
Architect: Joan Martorell
Supervised by: Cristóbal Cascante
Furnishing: Cascante, Camilo Oliveras
Paintings: Juan Roig, Eduardo Llorents
Building year: 1882-1888
Once the chapel-mausoleum was finished, the Sobrellano collection was completed with the construction of the palace.
This palace, which combines the architecture of English Gothic with some elements of Venetian stately homes and whose relief show a Mozarabic influence, was unveiled in 1888.
It is a simple structure with few elements of classical Gothic and consists of a foyer and a double marble staircase illuminated by the sunlight coming in through stained-glass windows that makes an almost perfect geometric floor plan.
The basic shape of the building is embellished with the rich decoration of its main façade and to a lesser extent at the back.
The marquis’s palace is definitely an impressive building full of beautiful things that reflect the character of the marquises of Comillas.
The grand salon was designed as a ceremonial reception room and subsequently its walls were filled with frescos painted by Eduardo Llorens consisting of different scenes showing the collaboration of the marquisate to the Spanish history.
Architect: Doménech i Montaner
Period: end of 19th century (1899)
This is located in the Plaza de Joaquín del Piélago and was built in honour of Don Joaquín del Piélago, son in-law of the Marquis, for his collaboration in bringing domestic water to Comillas.
Doménech designed a column with three fountains at the pedestal which is decorated with plaques on which are written inscriptions of gratitude with vaguelly Gothic floral motifs. At the summit is a crown, a four-armed cross and a swimming dolphin as the main aquatic motif.