Getaway to Bilbao, the museum city

Bilbao
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Are you staying in Biscay? Don't miss Bilbao, its capital! It is an essential step to include in your program of visits to this beautiful region of the Spanish Basque Country! Plan at least one day to discover the heritage, and feel the soul of the city.

City on a human scale, Bilbao will surprise you with its eclecticism. It is not for nothing that the Guggenheim Museum is located there, a contemporary museum par excellence! Between tradition and modernity, the city has been able to evolve and reorganize its urban development to become conducive to services and therefore to welcoming visitors from all over the world.


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A transformed city

The industrial age

The city of Bilbao, as you will see it during your walk, is the result of many years of work and urban development. Formerly, recognized for its port and industrial activity (mainly metallurgy and steel industry), the city was not attractive, quite the contrary. Badly known because of its blackened facades, it was far from imagining the rise it would experience thereafter.

The rebirth of Bilbao

Following the economic crisis of the 1980s, Bilbao suffered from its image. It was then that gigantic urban renewal programs saw the light of day. Everything is redesigned, rearranged, readapted to new needs and the facades are cleaned. The city is reborn and turns to tourism, services and becomes an important administrative center and a pleasant city where it is good to stroll.


Take a walk in Bilbao
Take a walk in Bilbao

Take a walk in Bilbao

The Casco Viejo

To better feel the soul of Bilbao, take a walk to Casco Viejo, on the right bank of the Nervion estuary. This is the historic heart of the city. Imbued with charm and tradition, its narrow streets alone reflect the authenticity of the city. Big advantage: they are almost all pedestrian! You can therefore stroll there in all serenity! Among the exceptional sites to discover, there is the Santiago Cathedral, which is dedicated to Santiago de Compostela, because it is located on the pilgrims' route.


Santiago Cathedral   Bilbao
Bilbao   Bilbao

Santiago Cathedral and its neo-Gothic facade


Plaza Nueva is also worth a visit. It sounds a bit surprising as the name for an old district, it's true! However, here you will come to a remarkable architectural ensemble, both for its size and for its beauty: the Euskaltzaindia. This houses the Royal Academy of the Basque language. Under its arcades, pintxos bars have mostly taken place. Very dynamic and busy, this square symbolizes the importance of this Spanish gourmet tradition.


Bilbao

Plaza Nueva: lively and radiant square

Downtown

Once you have explored the historic heart, head towards the city center. Look up and discover buildings that are out of the ordinary, both in their architectural style and in their history. It is here that the ancient and the contemporary coexist, without ever being embarrassed or distorted!

You will be surprised by this mix of styles and discover that modernity and the past combine harmoniously.


Bilbao
Bilbao

Walk and come face to face with remarkable buildings

Ancient heritage

During your walk, you will have the opportunity to see several buildings of exceptional beauty, such as:

  • the Arriaga theater, inaugurated in 1890,
  • the church of San Nicola, from the 18th century,
  • the Chavarri Palace housing the representation of the Spanish government in Biscay.

This is just one of the must-see buildings if you appreciate beautiful architecture, but there are many others that you will come across during your wanderings.

View of the Arriaga theater from the point crossing the Nervion estuary

Bilbao The baroque church of San Nicola

Bilbao Le Palais Chavarri, open your eyes and see that each window is unique

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When modernity sets in...

  • The Iberdrola Tower

From the top of its 165 m, it overlooks the city. It consists only of offices and lberdrola (supplier of electricity and gas) occupies a large majority. Despite its verticality and its appearance of a skyscraper, you will find that it blends perfectly into the landscape.


Bilbao
Bilbao

The Iberdrola tower in the background


  • The bridges

Several bridges allow you to cross the Nerdion estuary and thus pass from one bank to the other. Some of them are very designer and anchor the city in the modern era.


Bilbao

The different bridges of Bilbao

Culture in all its forms

Bilbao
Bilbao

At the bend of alleys, you will be surprised by certain artistic expressions

The Guggenheim Museum

World famous, the Guggenheim Museum is the pride of the city, with more than a million visitors per year. A true jewel of contemporary architecture, it is a key element in the renewal of the city. Thanks to the permanent and temporary exhibitions, you will make a leap into the creative and cultural world of internationally renowned artists.


Bilbao

Guggenheim Museum: the building itself is already a work of art

Azkuna Zentroa

Old-fashioned from the outside, enter its center and discover a universe designed by Philippe Starck. Admire the 43 columns staged in the entrance hall and gain height by going to the rooftop!


Azkuna Zentroa, a mix between old and new

Bilbao

From the rooftop of Azkuna Zentroa


Bilbao will hardly have any secrets for you after this city tour! Do not hesitate to also take advantage of the many shops and restaurants present in each of the districts of this incredible city, for an optimal experience!


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Did you like our article? Find others on the Guide du Pays Basque blog. We are also on social networks, come and consult the Facebook page of the Guide du Pays Basque, as well as our Instagram account @guidedupaysbasque

 

Article and photos prepared by Charline Prod'homme, La Plume Digitale


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