Bilbao – art wrapped in art
Bilbao, the capital of the Basque Autonomous Region in Spain, is perhaps best known for its Guggenheim Museum, a massive flower-like building, clad in shiny titanium, which hosts a collection of contemporary art. Bilbao is also a starting point for nearby resorts on the Bay of Biscay and to Pamplona.
For art lovers:
- a landmark of Bilbao, situated in the former dockyard. Apart from the collection of contemporary art, the museum has rotating exhibits lent by the Guggenheim museums in New York and Venice. This extreme design that is 24,000 square metres big, was signed Frank Gehry.
Museo de Bellas Artes
has a very valuable collection of art pieces dating from 12th to 20th century; among them many Flemish masterpieces and works by such Spaniards as El Greco, Goya, Velazquez, and Picasso.
Those interested in architecture will find in Bilbao, besides Guggenheim Museum, two fine works of Santiago Calatrava: Zubi Zuri, or "white bridge," laid over the Nervion River, and Sondika Airport, nicknamed La Paloma.
Many baroque churches and other buildings, especially the exterior and interior of 19th century City Hall, with its 'Arab Room' are also worth seeing in the old centre.
Old Quarter, one of the most important and popular shopping areas, attract also with one of the largest covered city markets in Europe. In this quarter you will also find many historical monuments, as well as accommodations facilities. Another great place to shop is the central Bilbao. Many foreigners buy leather products (clothes, furniture) in Bilbao.
Bilbao Airport had urban bus connections with the city centre, which is 12 km away. Long distance buses from many Spanish and European destinations arrive to the Termibús, next to the exchange station San Mamés. Long distance trains arrive to Abando Station. Ferries (P&O) sail between Bilbao (Santurtzi-Puerto) and Portsmouth.
BilbaoCard is the practical option for tourists, since it gives discounted rates not only for travels on all public transports – subway, trams, buses and railway (funicular), but offers significant discounts at museums, shops, restaurants, and events.
Credittrans for 5, 10, or 15 euro; the fee is deducted every time a journey is made).
Food & drink, nightlife
All fish courses taste delicious in Bilbao. Moreover, everybody should try famous pintxos (tapas). The area where great tapas bars and pubs are, is Paseo del Arenal, Calle Elcano, and Calle Ledesma Notice that many bars open first in the late evening.
Bilbao gained importance in the 14th century, becoming commercial and maritime centre of the Biscay region, as well as the place many pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela made their stop. Economic growth slowed towards the 16th century; although the urban expansion continued. The 18th and 19th century were again times of significant changes; the exploitation of nearby mineral deposits, shipbuilding industry and railway link strengthen Bilbao´s economic position. The city became also an important financial centre. All this reflected in overall changes in urban structures: the town spread out towards Abando. Promenades, straight roads and building such as City Hall and the Arriaga Theatre took Bilbao into the modernity.
Today, the economic crisis that in the end of 20th century affected this city dominated by steel and ship industry is long gone and forgotten. The Guggenheim Museum and the Euskalduna Palace, a conference and entertainment centre, have become the landmarks of the new Bilbao.
Climate: humid marine. Mild winters with average temperatures about 8ºC, and temperate summers. The average temperature summer time is 20ºC. Rain falls mostly in spring and autumn.
Time zone: UTC (GMT)+1. Daytime saving time (DST) is observed.
Currency: Euro (EUR, €).
Electricity: 230 V / 50 Hz.