Guide to Bilbao
Bilbao, is the largest city and most important, in the region of Vizcaya.
It has been the main engine in the modernization of this region. The Guggenheim Museum, the Convention Centre, the underground, the airport…are to name but a few projects that have modernized the Gulf of Biscay and the city. Its modern historical background (being only 700 years old) tells a tormented story. In the Spanish civil war, it was the seat of the Basque autonomous government until its capture by the Nationalists. However, Bilbao is tolerant and open to everyone, regardless of where they come from, with a current population of more than a million people it truly has evolved into a cosmopolitan city.
Bilbao, a modern and cultural city, offers everything that a traveller would require and has a cultural calendar that is hard to resist; it has two of the best art galleries in Spain, countless contemporary art exhibitions and a continuous series of shows and performances, such as opera, symphony orchestras, theatre, dance, cinema, easy listening, pop and rock ‘n roll, a subway, several museums, including the Museum of Fine Art; the Basque Archaeological, Ethnographical, and Historical Museum; and the spectacular Guggenheim Museum.
Since its inauguration in 1997, the Guggenheim and the Dog Puppy – a floral sculpture by Jeff Koons beside the museum- have become the most international symbols of Bilbao. As well as the awe-inspiring collections of fine art, the museum also offers a series of activities for visitors wishing to broaden their artistic horizons. The museum is probably most famous for its structure, a remarkable circular building.
No matter how modern the changing times have made the city it is still proud of its heritage and this can be seen abundantly in its beautiful Old Quarter known as the ‘The Seven Streets’, currently listed as a Conservation Area. Even going shopping is a unique occasion to enjoy the architectural heritage of the city as the main shopping area is also located in this historic quarter. Here you will be able to find all kinds of specialist and traditional produce, where the oldest shops stand side by side with the most modern establishments. It also boasts an impressive City Hall building and a Gothic Cathedral. The Catedral de Santiago is the oldest building in Bilbao and dates back to the times of the Santiago pilgrimages. The Old Quarter is also one of the best areas for eating out and enjoying the typical Bilbao lifestyle.
Bilbao is surrounded by fertile landscapes, with forests, mountains, beaches, and steep coasts. It is worth mentioning the Gorbeia and Urkiola ranges of hills, both of which have been declared Nature Reserves. Visitors can enjoy gorgeous landscapes, rich flora and fauna, as well as many activities such as horse riding tours, hiking, cycle touring, fishing, adventure sports and rowing. Plentzia, Gorliz, Bakio are the more popular tourist towns in the area and are blessed with fine sand beaches.
However beautiful Bilbao is today, it is still a work in progress with contributions from architects of the importance of Foster, Gehry, Calatrava, Isozaki, Pelli, and others. One can only fantasize what the future holds for this magnificent metropolis.