Bilbao, with the Guggenheim museum as a great international symbol, is the gateway to the Basque cultural universe.
The city is vertebrated by the estuary and it is a showroom of great architects as Norman Foster, Santiago Calatrava, Frank Gheri or Arata Isozaki among others. Their modern buildings dance with historic buildings that surround the oldest part of the city, the 7 streets, heart of the village.
All those who visit Bilbao say that it is a very cosmopolitan city. Probably this is because Bilbao is a city of mixtures. There is nothing better than following the walk of the estuary to realize how balanced novelty and antiquity are.
The oldest and most important historical area is the one built around the seven streets of Bilbao. In the beginning, these seven streets were the ones that constituted the downtown Bilbao and later, due to the population increase more streets were added.
Santiago’s Cathedral is in the heart of the old town. It was built in the last decades of the fourteenth and in fifteenth century. It was declared a UNESCO patrimony. Near it and towards the San Anton’s church and the bridge named after it, you will find the Ribera market. It was declared the largest covered market in Europe in 1990 and it was built between 1928 and 1929. Inside there are countless stands with all kinds of fresh products and gourmets where you can rest and drink something.
Following the road from the estuary to the centre of Bilbao, you reach the Arriaga Theatre. This jewel of neobaroque architecture was inaugurated in 1890. It was one of the buildings that suffered most in the 1983 floods in Bilbao and it had to be restored. The building is just a few steps away from Plaza Nueva, an interesting place where you can see what life is like in Bilbao and taste the pintxos.
In contrast to the old area, Bilbao has modern buildings and great tourist attractions. Calatrava Bridge or Zubizuri is near the Town Hall. The bridge communicates the part of the estuary where the Town Hall is with the part of the Gran Via and it is in this bank where you will find the Isozaki towers, oeuvre by Arata Isozaki. In addition, this part also has, among other things, the Guggenheim museum, designed by the architect Frank Gehry, one of the biggest attractions of the capital of Biscay.
However, not all vanguard buildings in Bilbao are so obvious monuments. Within this category are the subway stations designed by Norman Foster, also called “Fosteritos”.
All this is just a summary of what there is to see in Bilbao. Come and explore the city.
Distance: 28km / 32 minutes by car
*Images provided by the Bilbao Tourism Office