A group of CAFYD students from UNEATLANTICO learn about the history and practice of Cantabrian bowling from the Federación Cántabra de Bolos

16 Nov 2023
A group of CAFYD students from UNEATLANTICO learn about the history and practice of Cantabrian bowling from the Federación Cántabra de Bolos

After the success of last year’s meeting, the Federación Cántabra de Bolos (Cantabrian Bowling Federation) has once again invited the students of the Degree in Sport and Exercise Science of the Universidad Europea del Atlántico (European University of the Atlantic, UNEATLANTICO) to participate in its educational project “Madera de Ser” (Wood of Being), which seeks to promote the participation and knowledge of Cantabrian bowling in educational centers (primary and secondary) and now also in universities. It takes place in the bowling alley of the Complejo Ruth Beitia (Ruth Beitia Complex), thanks to the work of federated players who have a wide experience given their trajectory as professionals in different bowling clubs.

History of Cantabrian bowling

In the hour of theory given to the students, they are told the history of Cantabrian bowling, its origins, and the most accepted theories about it. It is known that as early as the Paleolithic era, pins made of carved animal bones were used to improve accuracy when hunting. It is believed that they played inside the caves where they lived, as this is where the remains have been found.

Specifically in Cantabria, it is recorded that bowling was already being played in 1627, as a document called “Bando” is preserved in which the then mayor of Santander prohibited bowling in the street due to the noise and the damage it caused.

Although the first written reference in Cantabria about bowling is the Bando of the mayor of the then Villa de Santander in 1627 prohibiting the game of bowling in the street, it was not until the late nineteenth century when the first attempts to find common rules of the game for the whole region took place.

At the beginning of the 20th century, attempts were made to unify the regulations, and the creation of a provincial body was also sought to oversee the organization of competitions and the unification of criteria for this purpose. On September 14, 1919, in Torrelavega, the Federación Bolística Montañesa (Mountain Bowling Federation) was born and Darío Gutiérrez, from Puente San Miguel, was elected president.

They draw up their Statutes and the rules for the first Campeonato de La Montaña (La Montaña Championship), which is played in Torrelavega in 1920 and repeated in 1921. But new discrepancies, mainly between the fans of Santander and Torrelavega, put an end to the Federation, returning to anarchy, although from the Santander Café Royalty, a group of fans continues organizing competitions and does not abandon the idea of having a federation again.

In 1941, after the good efforts of mountain people living in Madrid, the Delegación Nacional de Deportes (National Sports Delegation), chaired by General Moscardó, created the Federación Española de Bolos (Spanish Bowling Federation) and appointed Antonio Gorordo as its first president, who worked so that in August of the same year the Federación Cántabra de Bolos was set up, with Pablo Sánchez Palacín as president and establishing its headquarters in the Café Boulevard in Santander.

In 1955, the Casa de los Bolos (House of Bowling) was born, and the Federation shared its headquarters, located in a building on calle San Francisco, until 1962, when both entities moved to new premises on calle Cisneros, which also had a bowling alley. In 1988, it moved again, now to calle Canarias, and in 2000 to its current location, in the Complejo Municipal Ruth Beitia (Ruth Beitia Municipal Complex) in La Albericia, next to the bowling alleys of the four modalities practiced in Cantabria.

In 2005, Santander hosted the IV General Assembly meeting, coinciding with Semana Bolística (Bowling Week), and the activity was included in the events of the 250th anniversary of the City of Santander, which culminated with a gala dinner at the Palacio Real de La Magdalena (Royal Palace of La Magdalena). It was held at the Hotel Santemar, where more than 40 participants from five countries stayed, who also had the opportunity to visit Santillana del Mar, Comillas, El Soplao caves (recently inaugurated), and the final of the Campeonato de España (Spanish Championship) with the triumph of Jesús Salmón over Emilio Antonio, setting a new record with 710 pins.

In 2006, Santander became the European capital of the Juegos Tradicionales (Traditional Games) by hosting the Congreso y Festival Internacional de Bolos y Juegos Tradicionales (International Congress and Festival of Bowling and Traditional Games), sponsored and subsidized by the European Union through the Culture 2000 program. More than 400 people from 15 regions and 7 countries, practitioners of more than 70 games, united under the slogan “Juega con tu corazón, comparte tu cultura” (Play with your heart, share your culture).

And already in 2013, they took over the organization of the Asociación Mundial de Juegos Tradicionales (World Traditional Games Association), ITSGA, which had been created in 2009 in Aranda de Duero, and which held its General Assembly in Santander with 25 representatives from four continents. In these fifteen years, Cantabria has always been present in the different meetings of the ETSGA and, in addition, in other events organized by some of its members, highlighting the exchange with the modality of Quilles de Huit from the French region of Aveyron, with capital in Rodez.

In 2016, on the 75th anniversary of the creation of the Federación Cántabra, also of the Español, Santander again, in August and coinciding with the Semana Bolística (Bowling Week), hosted a Congress, a Festival, and the General Assembly of the ETSGA, which celebrated here its 15th anniversary.


Four modalities

There are four bowling modalities or forms of the game that are currently practiced in Cantabria. Of these, the most important is Bolo Palma, whether we consider the number of facilities, participants or teams, the following of the fans, the attention of the media, or the support of the sponsoring companies. According to the chronological order, Bolo Palma is the oldest modality within the Federación Cántabra, started in August 1941; Pasabolo Tablón, incorporated in 1960, was the second, followed by Pasabolo Losa in 1982, and very recently, in 2001, Bolo Pasiego was also submitted to the federative discipline.


These four modalities are grouped into two families:

  • Knockdown modes, where the objective of the game is to knock down as many pins as possible: Bolo Palma and Bolo Pasiego.
  • Pasabolo modalities, where the objective of the game is to throw the pins far away, passing the stripes in order to acquire a higher score: Pasabolo Tablón and Pasabolo Losa.

In addition, bowling, which had activity some years ago in Santander, is a modality framed in the Federación Española, but now there is no bowling center of this type in the city. And on the other hand, petanca, which until 1984 was under the discipline of the Federación Cántabra de Bolos, must be considered as a modality of “balls” and since that date has its own federation.