An Unusual Cemetery in Comillas in Northern Spain

Comillas is one of many small townships we visited as we travelled across northern Spain from La Coruña to Lourdes, France. Located in the autonomous community of Cantabria, Comillas is a charming and beautiful town most noted for its cemetery, old university, palace, monuments, and Gaudi’s summer home.

We visited here about 3 years ago, yet the photos remained buried. Recently I switched to Lightroom, and in the process of sorting, tagging, and reviewing some 40,000 photos, I rediscovered this town and many others.

Here are the best of my Comillas photos:

Cemetery of Comillas, Cantabria, Spain

This is the Cemetery of Comillas. We saw this style of burial in several areas in Spain. The coffin is inserted into a recess that is rented for a pre-determined number of years. Later the coffin is moved to a common burial ground.

The Angel by Llimona (1895) in the Cemetery of Comillas, Cantabria, Spain

The Angel by Llimona (1895) towers above the cemetery.

Cemetery of Comillas, Cantabria, Spain

The archway supporting the angel is part of an old 15th-century church that the cemetery was built over many years ago.

Cemetery of Comillas, Cantabria, Spain

Another area of the cemetery.

Entracne gate to the Pontificial University in Comillas, Cantabria Spain

This is the old entrance gate to Pontifical University (now in Madrid).

Random shot in Comillas

Random shot in Comillas.

Capilla-Panteon in Comillas, Spain


Palace of Sobrellano in Comillas, Spain

Palace of Sobrellano where the marquis of Comillas holds a ceremonial office.

Clock on Iglesia de San Cristobal in Comillas, Cantabria, Spain

Clock on Iglesia de San Cristobal

Unfortunately, by the time we arrived at Gaudi’s summer home, it was too late to go in.  We couldn’t even see the house from the locked gate. This image is from creative commons:

el Capricho by GaudiPhoto Credit: Creative Commons

El Capricho, Fuente Real, Comillas(Cantabria), Antoni Gaudí. At least we went on a tour of Gaudí architecture when we were in Barcelona.
Photo Credit: Creative Commons

To explore Cantabria we stayed in the colourful village of Santillana Del Mar (a village that is not actually at the sea, despite its name). From here we made day trips to Comillas, Santander, Altamira, and we went inside El Castillo in Puente Viesgo where we saw cave drawings estimated to be 40,000 years old.

Have you been to Comillas? Which is your favourite region of Spain?

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A collection of interesting landmarks and photos including this angel that stands over the cememtery in Comillas, Cantabria, Spain


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  1. says

    Hi Rhonda – wonderful selection of photos for us of Comillas … beautiful place .. and that angel holding court … incredible buildings they have – pity about the Gaudi opening times … another day?! Cheers Hilary

  2. says

    It’s beautiful — even the cemetery! I love all the green grass and trees. It’s a little weird about only being in the mausoleum for a few years considering the marble covers are obviously carved with words for that person. They’ll go to waste later. Thanks for sharing the beautiful pics!

    • says

      Hmmm. Now you have me wondering if they actually do this custom in this cemetery. Although every grave has flowers, suggesting that they are not that old. I am assuming the marble moves with the body.

    • says

      I want to go back and see Gaudi’s summer house. Funny, when i was staying only 30 minutes away we couldn’t be bothered to go back. Now, years later, I regret that decision.

  3. says

    Love to start the year reading about Spain. I know I have to visit the northern part of the country. Yesterday, I was reading an interview made to a guy who wrote a book about Spain’s cuisine and he recommended going to the north to eat the best food. I think I should follow his advice. #TPThursday

  4. says

    Hubby and I took care of all our funeral arrangements last year and they are paid for. We decided on cremation and a niche rather than being buried in the ground. Works for us. It’s interesting to see what others do in terms of their final resting place.

    Have a fabulous day, Rhonda. ☺

    • says

      I think we travel too much to pre-pay for funeral expenses. I don’t really like tot think about it, but if I were to pass in another country, I don’t think I would want to burden my family with bringing me back to New Zealand.

  5. says

    I’ve been in Comillas, but we didn’t visit the cemetery.

    Is lightroom a good option to store/sort pictures?? I have to find a smarter way of archiving my pictures.

    • says

      So far I am loving Lightroom. I bought it through Creative Cloud, so I will have to pay the monthly fee forever. That part worries me a bit, but for now, my only regret is not switching to it sooner.

  6. says

    Wow! I wonder how much it costs to have your coffin there and then removed to the common burial ground.

    Fascinating post, as always. I’ve never heard of this region of Spain. Is it easily accessible from Barcelona? I’m going to Barcelona for a few days in May.

    • says

      I was thinking the same thing when I first learned about it. But if it’s how it’s done, I guess it would seem normal and just be included in the price.

      As for a day trip, the two cities are on different coasts. Barcelona is on the Mediterranean to the east, while Comillas is on the north (Atlantic) coast. They would be too far for a day trip. Plus there is plenty to do in Barcelona, and in the closer surrounding areas.

  7. says

    I’ve not been to this area but of the places we went in Spain I would choose Andalusia as my favourite. It is fair to say that I loved all the places we visited in Spain. Two we didn’t visit that I would visit next time would be Cadiz and Valencia as well as the area around your post and San Sebastian.

    • says

      I would have to agree, Andalusia is quite magical with some of the most amazing architecture I have seen. We travelled around much of the country, but missed Valencia. Maybe next time.

  8. says

    Seeing Gaudi’s summer house is reason enough to visit Comillas. That being said, the city’s architecture and cemetery look fascinating. I hope to visit Comillas when I return to Spain.

  9. says

    Interesting. I’ve never seen that kind of cemetery before. So the ones in the photos that are all stacked up on top of each other – is that the rental or the common place they’re moved to after their rental period is over?

    It’s just so strange! It reminds me the catacombs, really.

  10. says

    This is quite an unusual cemetery, Rhonda. I have never seen burial places piled up on top of each other like this. I visited quite a few interesting cemeteries over the years, but nothing like Comillas.

  11. says

    That’s a really unusual cemetery. I’m used to the urns stacked on top of each other in ‘shelves’ for a lack of better word in Hong Kong, but have never seen ones where coffins are arranged like that. Thanks for sharing your photos! The Angel is very stunning.

  12. says

    I love everywhere I’ve visited in Spain – and Gaudi is particularly special. That’s a really curious cemetery too. My own favourite part of Spain has to be Salamanca though

  13. says

    It’s too bad you missed seeing Gaudi’s summer home. I bet the interior is quite interesting. Renting casket space is an intriguing idea. I suppose that after a few decades, some graves would no longer be visited, so it does seem to make sense to move them aside for a more frequented casket to be put in its place. I really like how they incorporated that arch with the angel statue into the cemetary.

  14. says

    We just spent a considerable amount of time in Spain, but I never saw a cemetery like that. It’s so interesting with all of the caskets in the wall like that. Awesome that you found your photos and can relive the mystique of that town.

  15. says

    I loved Spain and especially Gaudi. I would have loved to visit his summer home, with many of these places you almost have to map out your day by opening times to get it all in! #theweeklypostcard

  16. says

    I’ve enjoyed everywhere that I’ve managed to get to in Spain; Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Granada, and various day trips to small towns. I would like to explore the northern part of the country. The architecture and the cemetery are appealing. It’s interesting that they rent a “coffin room” (for lack of a better word) for a given period and then are moved to a public grave. I wonder if that happens anywhere else in the world? Thanks for linking up this week. #TPThursday

  17. says

    I have seen photos of that cemetery before, but never knew where it was. I have heard of places where you ‘rent’ space and then move to a community site after a period of time. I guess when space is at a premium it makes sense, but not our custom to move once at rest. This is a place I’d love to visit, especially with Gaudis home there. I love your photos of the angel.

  18. says

    A very unusual cemetery but eerie and beautiful in a way. When I go I will have my ashes placed in a box that looks like an angel ( my wife laughed at and asked the man if they have one like a devil . Funny,funny,funny ) MY wife likes to joke.

    Have a beautiful Sunday Rhonda. See ya.

    Cruisin Paul

  19. says

    One of the countries I’m really excited to visit – Spain. The Spanish root is very deep in Filipino culture so I feel like traveling back in time when I visit Spain. The cemetery looks like a beautiful place, overlooking the sea and with a beautiful statue of an angel looking over everyone.

  20. says

    I like to visit cemeteries when we travel it’s interesting to see how different cultures deal with their dead. This one in Cormillas reminds me of Italian cemeteries. Thanks for sharing your photos.

  21. says

    If you went there three years ago, how the hell can you remember all the names of the places ha!? Unless it’s just me and my memory that can’t keep anything in longer that a few days. Love the captures by the way! I lived in Spain for a year and a half and had no idea about their burial traditions. Thanks for sharing!

    • says

      I upload the day’s photos each evening when we travel. Using my notes from the day, I tag and caption them all at the time. Otherwise, there would be no chance I would remember the name of some of these small towns, let alone the buildings.

  22. says

    I’ve seen cemeteries like that somewhere too. Can’t remember if it was France, Italy, or Germany. Obviously, I didn’t pay too much attention to the style, otherwise, I probably would remember where I saw it. Nevertheless, it is interesting how different countries handle death and space. Obviously, if you don’t have room to spread out, up is the next best thing. Thanks for sharing the beautiful cemetery and cute town of Comillas. Looks lovely!

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