Bilbao is a cosmopolitan, welcoming, lively, elegant and modern city that combines its unique cultural heritage with a new avant-garde aesthetic to create a balanced and remarkable urban landscape. Strategically located in the centre of the Atlantic Corridor, it‘s home to half of the population of the Basque Country and half of its economic activity.
Towards the end of the 20th century, as a result of industrial restructuring, Bilbao had to make a radical change to its economy. The greatest emblem of this ” New Bilbao ” is the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, designed by Frank Gehry, although many factors have contributed to this regeneration and profound change. The transformation of Bilbao is environmental as well as urban, displayed in the recovery of the estuary – the soul of the city and silent witness to its history, the backbone for communication and trade.
Bilbao offers visitors a wide range of cultural activities, with two of the best art galleries in all of Spain, alongside museums, contemporary art exhibitions and a rolling programme of opera, symphony orchestras, theatre, dance and more.
Since it opened in 1997, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (pictured) has become the centrepiece of the city’s art and cultural scene. This spectacular titanium, glass and stone building shows exhibitions by influential contemporary artists.
Another outstanding gallery in Bilbao is the Museum of Fine Arts which houses an unrivalled collection of over 10,000 pieces of modern, contemporary and ancient art.
The Basque Museum represents culture, customs and traditions, and contain objects that belonged to the fishing, farming and industrial past of Euskadi.
Visiting Casco Viejo, the Old Town, is a must for discovering medieval Bilbao. Its cobbled streets, cantones and charming squares bear witness to the intense commercial and port life that helped the city grow. Over 500 years of history are present in the city walls, from the Gothic Cathedral of Santiago (pictured) and the New Square, to the iconic San Antón Church and the ancient ruins it stands on, and the busy Ribera Market – the largest covered market in Europe.
If you’re a lover of good food, you’re in the right place. The key to the Basque chefs’ success is their use of the best raw materials. Bilbao offers a multitude of dining options to satisfy all culinary tastes.
Many visitors’ best memory of Bilbao is going out for pintxos, a custom that cultivates cuisine and friendship. Savour the experience by sampling some of these delicacies of ‘miniature cuisine’ with a drink as you wander from one bar to another, enjoying the specialities of each.