Bilbao is the heart of a metropolis where more than a million people live. It is the centre of the economic-social development and the main factor of the modernisation of the Bay of Biscay. The great architectural and infrastructure projects have been the driving force of the urban and economic regeneration of the city. The Bilbao Guggenheim Museum, the Euskalduna Conference and Music Centre, Norman Foster’s Underground, Calatrava’s airport, the towers designed by the architects Arata Isozaki and César Pelli… are all examples of the dynamism that exists in Bilbao. The city is situated in the area of Bizkaia and is surrounded by a fertile landscape with forests, mountains, beaches and steep coasts. All this makes Bilbao a privileged destination for visitors. The modern transport and network of roads run to locations nearby such as the other capitals of the Basque Country – Vitoria and San Sebastián.
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How to get to Bilbao
Great Things To See in Bilbao
A symbol of Bilbao
Designed by the American architect Frank O. Gehry, this avant-garde building is a magnificent place to display masterpieces of modern and contemporary art.
Since its opening in 1997, the Guggenheim Bilbao and Puppy – a floral sculpture of a dog by Jeff Koons, located outside the museum – have become the most internationally-known symbols of Bilbao. They form part of the collection of works by great figures in the world of art: David Salle, Chillida, Jeff Koons, Louis Bourgeois and Robert Rauschenberg are just a few examples. The Guggenheim also offers a series of activities for visitors who wish to broaden their knowledge of art.
The Vizcaya Regional Government building is fundamental to the contemporary architecture of the Basque Country.
This building was inaugurated in 1900 and it is the work of Luis Alarden. It is compact and elegant, and is one of the most best examples of Eclecticism. The large windows on the façade stand out especially, along with the grand balcony over the main entrance. It is sumptuously decorated, in response to the need that the bourgeoisie of the time felt to express their economic power.
The interior of the palace is outstanding for its large staircase and decor, with plenty of marble, wood, stucco, mirrors, plasterwork, vases, ceramics, windows and paintings by important artists from the end of the 19th century.
It was built in 1929 and covers 10,000 square metres, making it the largest indoor market in Europe.
This unique produce market is in the heart of the Old Town, alongside Bilbao Estuary. It has an eclectic, monumental style, although its character is markedly functional. Inside there are no columns. It is a completely open space and its illumination takes on special importance. The sunlight enters from above and filters through the floors, which are built in a translucent material, providing natural light throughout the building. Outside, the Mercado de la Ribera (riverbank market) has a variety of art deco ornamentation, combining windows, lattice windows, floral decorations and other decorative elements. It is outstanding not only for its beautiful windows, but also for the excellent variety of fish and seafood on sale.
Bilbao’s oldest building.
Today’s Gothic church is built on the site of an old shrine that dates from the time of the Jacobean pilgrimages.
The cathedral interior has three naves with ogive vaulted ceilings. Although it is in Gothic style, the façade and tower visible today were built in the 19th century. The choir stalls and cloister are beautiful, the latter built in florid Gothic style. The crypt is located where the original shrine stood, and incorporates its walls as part of the construction. It has two façades, one Renaissance and the other neo-Classical.
The décor in the Town Hall is extremely interesting, especially inside.
The Town Hall in Bilbao is set on the bank of the river. It was inaugurated in 1892 on the site of the old San Agustín Convent. The building was designed by the architect Joaquín Rucoba, and artists of the period contributed to this elegant, highly ornamental construction.
The interior décor features a range of items including furniture, lamps, paintings, windows, sculptures and busts, vases… The Arab Hall is especially outstanding, and was designed by the artist José Soler, who painted the room to imitate marble, wood and ivory.
It is built on the site of an old shrine where, legend has it, the Virgin Mary appeared at the beginning of the 16th century.
Bilbao residents have great devotion to the Virgin of this church, “La Amatxo”. Work on this beautiful Gothic building began in 1519. The façade is in Renaissance style and has a large triumphal arch. Inside, special mention should be made of the Neo-Classical Main Altarpiece, where you can see the Camarín de la Virgen(Virgin’s chamber). Its large, open belfry dates from the beginning of the 20th century.