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Bilbao is the capital city of Vizcaya province in north-central Spain. It is situated on the estuary of the Nervión River, near the Bay of Biscay. With a population of just over 1 million in the metropolitan area (approx. 346,000 in its Municipality), Bilbao is the largest city in the Basque Country.
The main purpose of this webpage is to show some photos taken during a visit here in the 2000’s.

Bilbao was founded around the year 1300 and is now one of Spain’s most important ports and commercial centres. The city is home to the University of Bilbao (founded 1968). Historically, industries here have included iron and steel, ship building, fishing, and chemicals. Bilbao flourished as an industrial city from the mid-19th century, although by the early 21st century, there had been a decline in heavy industry. Despite this, income from tourism has managed to alleviate the effects of this decline, largely due to new urban development projects which have introduced some fine examples of modernist architecture to the cityscape.

Bilbao is surrounded by high, bare hills and its suburbs extend some 10 miles (16km) along the banks of the Nervión River to its estuary. The city is divided by the river into two distinctive areas; the left bank is the more industrious and includes factories and working-class neighbourhoods, whist the right bank includes the Old Town (Casco Viejo), alongside commercial and residential areas. Several towns on the left bank were incorporated into the municipality and formed the modern extension of the city. This area forms the financial heart of the city and also includes the provincial government’s offices. In total, the two sides of the city are connected by nine bridges over the Nervión River.
Photos taken during a visit here in the 2000’s are shown below, followed by a brief description of some of the city’s main sights:

Some of the main sights throughout the city include the following:

① Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (Opening in 1997, this is perhaps the building which most propelled Bilbao’s reputation, firmly placing it on the international map of tourist destinations. Part of the city’s redevelopment, the distinctive museum building was designed by American architect Frank Gehry. Its thinly-plated titanium curved exterior is alleged to resemble a ship or a flower. Approaching the museum from the other side of the river, the visitor passes the museum’s tower; designed to resemble a sail, it does not form a part of the exhibition space. A bridge, the Puente de la Salve, crosses the river to the museum – it was incorporated into the design of the building, passing underneath it. Approaching the main entrance, the visitor passes Jeff Koons' “Puppy”, resembling, as the name suggests, a puppy, it has a coat of flowers irrigated by an internal system. The museum’s exhibits represent a broad spectrum of modern and contemporary art, including many works by famous artists. Most of the works here are not permanent, with temporary exhibitions and retrospectives also appearing at the other Guggenheim museums in New York, Berlin and Venice.)
② Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao (The Museum of Fine Art. Located in the newer town, this is regarded as one of Spain’s best art museums. Here can be seen art ranging from 12th-century Catalan masterpieces to works by internationally acclaimed modern artists. It also includes several rooms containing paintings by Basque artists)
③ Casco Viejo (The Old Town, situated on the right bank of the river extending between the San Antón Bridge and the Church of San Nicolás. In total, five bridges connect it with Ensanche, the New Town, and these are attractions in their own right. Casco Viejo lies around the Siete Calles, or Seven Streets, running parallel down to the riverbank; the seven streets are: Somera, Artecalle, Tendería, Belosticalle, Carnicería Vieja, Barrencalle, and Barrencalle Barena. With its many shops and cafés, exploring this area of the city is popular with visitors. As well as some of those listed next, other attractions in the Old Town include the main thoroughfare, Paseo del Arenal, Teatro Arriaga on Plaza de Arriaga, the Baroque Iglesia de San Nicolás de Bari, and the popular Plaza Nueva, also known as Plaza Barria)
④ Euskal Museoa Bilbao (The Bilbao Basque Museum, or Museo Vasco in Spanish. This is located in a fine Baroque building in the aforementioned Casco Viejo / Old Town. Here, visitors can discover the unique culture and history of the Basque region)
⑤ Catedral Basílica de Santiago (a 19th-century church built on the site of a 14th-century pilgrimage shrine and also located in Casco Viejo)
⑥ Bizkaia Museum of Archaeology (opening as recently as 2008 and also located in Casco Viejo, this museum illustrates the prehistory and history of the Basque culture and country as shown through the many archaeological artefacts on display here)
⑦ Parque Doña Casilda de Iturrizar (a large park landscaped in the Romantic style. At the edge of the park is the Fine Arts Museum – see ②)
⑧ Basílica de Begoña (a 16th-century pilgrimage church in a district of the same name, located on a hill above the old town)
⑨ Museo Marítimo Ría de Bilbao (this museum describes shipbuilding and the city’s reinvention of its port and is sited in the former Euskalduna shipyard)
⑩ Palacio de la Música y Congresos Euskalduna (a music and conference hall designed to resemble a ship, it was built in 1999, in part of the area that was formerly occupied by the Euskalduna shipyards. Designed by architects Federico Soriano and Dolores Palacios, it is considered one of the finest examples of contemporary architecture in Spain. The building is home to the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra.)
⑪ Mercado de la Ribera (a popular marketplace in the Casco Viejo, or The Old Town, dating from 1929. It is said to be Europe's largest indoor marketplace)
⑫ Funicular Artxanda and Mount Artxanda (a three minute ride runs through the hillside of the Arangoiti district to the top of Mount Artxanda. From the top here can be seen wonderful panoramic views of Bilbao’s cityscape)
⑬ Gran Vía de Don Diego López de Haro (otherwise simply known as “Gran Via”, this is the city’s main thoroughfare, running nearly one mile / 1.5km and lined with not only government and commercial buildings, but also with upmarket shops and restaurants)