Formed by the village of Potes and the district of Rases, it belongs to the region of Liébana of which it is the capital. It is situated in a strategic place, between the four large valleys of the region, Valdeparado, Valdelaró, Cillorigo and Cereceda and where the river Quiviesa flows into the Deva, the latter born in the nearby Picos de Europa. Although no vestiges of having been inhabited in antiquity have been found in Potes, it is to be assumed that, as in other areas of Liébana, there were also prehistoric settlements here. Its current name derives from the Pontes of the Romans, present in these parts. The repopulation of the area was closely linked to Alfonso I and the construction of several monasteries. The first written document naming Potes dates from the year 847. In 947 the church of San Vicente, dependent on the Monastery of Turieno, is cited.
In the 14th century Potes was owned by Don Tello, son of Alfonso XI, who became lord of Liébana. These times of confrontation between feudal lords and lineages, the belonging of the village of Potes was also a reason for dispute between the house of Manrique-Castañeda and Mendoza. Potes remained a place of lordship until the nineteenth century and the mayor was appointed by the Duke of Infantado. It was not until 1822 that the town of Potes had its own town hall, and years later became part of the judicial district of San Vicente de la Barquera. During the Civil War the town was practically destroyed by a great fire, later rebuilt, its old town, although also affected by the flames, was declared in 1983 an Asset of Cultural Interest in the category of Historic Site.
Walking through the framework of the streets of Potes, we will visit neighbourhoods such as La Solana, one of the most emblematic and oldest in the town, together with El Sol, which in the heart of the old town boasts medieval buildings and emblazoned houses, the Manor House of the Canal, now a house of culture, the Tower of Orejón de la Lama or Bedoya Tower built between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and which currently houses an exhibition of witchcraft, occultism and medieval torture. The adjacent Hanging district, whose houses look without appearance of vertigo to the sickle of the river Quiviesa. Of the towers of the town of Potes the one that characterizes it the most is the Infantado that built in the fifteenth century more than a defensive tower was a palace house. The tower of Calseco was built in the 18th century, and is very close to the hermitage and the bridge of San Cayetano, the one of Osorio built between the 17th and 18th centuries, or the one of San Pedro also form part of the profile of Potes. We cross its medieval bridges, the New Bridge, the Prison Bridge and the San Cayetano Bridge, under which a colony of colourful ducks have decided to live.
All this makes the visitor think that he has gone back in time to return to the era of medieval knights and beautiful ladies. But if the coquettish village of Potes has bridges, towers... it cannot lack churches, two, the new and the old, and the two dedicated to San Vicente. The old church of San Vicente dates back to the 14th century and represents the independence of Potes from the Monastery of Santo Toribio, which now houses the Tourist Office. The present parish, the new church, was begun at the end of the 19th century. On the outskirts of Potes is the Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora of Valmayor that shelters the Patron Saint of Potes. The gastronomy, the tourist walks, the hiking routes that access natural places of great beauty, the Lebaniego Way, as well as being the starting point of the Vadiniense Way or Jacobean Route through Liébana that connects with the French Way of Saint James, are other of the attractions that this emblematic town offers for the delight of everyone who comes to visit it.
Potes celebrates its patron saint festivities in honour of San Vicente Mártir on 22 January. On 15 August the festival is for the Virgin of Valmayor. On 14 September the famous celebrations of the Holy Cross are celebrated in Potes and on 2 November the All Saints' Fair takes place. The procession of "La Santuca", patron saint of Liébana, which takes place on 2 May, runs through the villages from Aniezo to Santo Toribio, and is one of the longest running processions in Spain.
In Potes is held every Monday agricultural market, but traditionally the most relevant fairs are those of January 11, March 1, May 1, June 29, September 16 and highlighting them all All Saints on November 2. This is one of the oldest fairs in Cantabria, established as a Royal Privilege in 1379 by Juan I of Castile. This day takes place the traditional 'pasa' of cattle, led by the expert hand of shepherds dressed in the typical albarcas run the main street of Potes to the fair.
Potes was the centre of commercial transactions from early medieval times, since, according to documents, as early as the year 1291 King Sancho IV determined that all participants in the Potes market deposit their weapons, which will remain in custody, in the inns, and can only collect when they give up their trade and leave the village.
Legend has it that in the gorge of La Hermida, very close to the town and inexcusable passage to Potes coming from Santander, there are two large stones that are nothing more or less than the tears that Don Pelayo shed when he saw the massive annihilation of Muslim troops during the battle fought here, and continues to say that the collapse of large rocks rolling along the walls of the gorge helped in the victory of the Christians.
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Potes is located in the middle of the N-621 road which, on one hand, connects it with Unquera on the Cantabrian coast through the Hermida Gorge and, on the other hand, with Riaño and Mansilla de las Mulas in the Community of Castilla y León. The CA-185 road joins it with Fuente Dé, thus bringing it closer to the Picos de Europa National Park.
Potes has regular bus service that daily connects with Santander and the towns on the route.
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