Bilbao in the Basque Country is Home of the Guggenheim Museum:
Bilbao, in the north of Spain, is the capital of the province of Biscay and the largest city in the Basque Country. But for most visitors, it is the Guggenheim Museum that brings them here.
Transformation of Bilbao
Bilbao has done well as an industrial city since the mid-19th century and the Port of Bilbao is among the top five ports in Spain. It was once mainly an industrial city with industries such as iron ore mining, steelworks, shipbuilding, petrochemical, refinery, agriculture and cheese production being the fabric of its existence. However, when the Guggenheim Museum opened here in 1997, an extraordinary transformation took place.
The Guggenheim Museum
The opening of the Guggenheim Museum in 1997 put Bilbao on the international travel map and this was the turning point of the city in terms of tourism. Whereas once it was a polluted industrial city, these days Bilbao has a feast of cultural attractions, stunning architecture and entertainment offerings that bring millions of visitors here each year.
The Nervión River divides Bilbao into the old and new. The heart of medieval Bilbao, the Casco Viejo, is on the eastern shore of the river. The alleyways of the Siete Calles district of the Old Town are lively with bars and restaurants. Here too you’ll find the arcaded Plazuela de Santiago and Catedral Basilica de Santiago, as well as the Mercado de la Ribera, the largest food market of its kind in Spain.On the opposite side of the river, is the unmistakable iconic Guggenheim Museum. No doubt this modern side of the city is where most tourists will begin their visit to Bilbao. The titanium and glass architecture of the Guggenheim is stunningly beautiful and the building itself is a star attraction, not to mention the exhibits within. Even the striking red arch on the Puente de la Salve and the railings have been designed to provide contrast to the Guggenheim building.
Although the Guggenheim Museum is the jewel in Bilboa’s crown, there are many other museums, art galleries and theatres and plazas to explore here. A good way to get an orientation of this city is to get on the Bilbao City Hop-on Hop-off Tour.
Hotels in Bilbao
Visitors have a good range of hotel choices in Bilbao, many of which are within walking distance to the Guggenheim. See the full list of Bilbao hotels Here.
By Air – There are many regular and budget airlines with flights to Bilbao Airport.
By Train – Bilbao is also connected by short and long distance trains to various cities in Spain (see www.renfe.com)
By Sea – P&O Ferries sail between Bilbao and Portsmouth.
By Road – Bilbao is well connected to other cities in the north of Spain. The A-8 links Bilbao to Santander to the west and to San Sebastián, Irún and France, to the east. The AP-68 links to Vitoria, Logroño, Zaragoza, Barcelona, Burgos and Madrid.
Map of Bilbao: