Bilbao, center for culture and politics in the Basque Country

Friday, 5 August 2011 - 03:40 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Architecture
Reading Time:  7 minutes

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao © Ardfern

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao © Ardfern

Bilbao is a Spanish municipality, capital of the province of Biscay, in the autonomous community of the Basque Country. With a population of 353,187 it is the largest city of its autonomous community and the tenth largest in Spain. Bilbao lies within one of Spain’s largest metropolitan areas; the comarca of Greater Bilbao has an estimated population of 875,552, making it the fifth most populated conurbation in the country. Bilbao is situated in the north-central part of Spain, some 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) south of the Bay of Biscay, where the estuary of Bilbao is formed. Its main urban core is surrounded by two small mountain ranges with an average elevation of 400 metres (1,300 ft).

Since its foundation in the early 14th century, Bilbao was a commercial hub that enjoyed significant importance in the Green Spain, mainly thanks to its port activity based on the export of iron extracted from the Biscayan quarries. Throughout the nineteenth century and beginnings of the twentieth, Bilbao experienced heavy industrialization that made it the centre of the second industrialized region of Spain, behind Barcelona. This was joined by an extraordinary population explosion that prompted the anexation of several adjacent municipalities. Nowadays, Bilbao is a vigorous service city that is experiencing an ongoing social, economic, and aesthetic revitalization process, started by the symbolic Bilbao Guggenheim Museum, and continued by infrastructure investments, such as the airport terminal, the rapid transit system, the tram line, the Alhóndiga, or the currently under development Abandoibarra and Zorrozaurre renewal projects.

After the fall of Francoist Spain and the stablishment of a constitutional monarchy, in a process known in Spain as the transition, Bilbao could be able to hold democratic elections once again. Against what happened in the republics, this time Basque nationalists rose to power. With the approval of the Statute of Autonomy of the Basque Country in 1979, Vitoria-Gasteiz was elected the seat of the government and therefore the de facto capital of the Basque Autonomous Community, despite Bilbao being larger and more powerful economically. In the 1980s, several factors such as terrorism, labor demands, and the arrival of cheap labor force from the abroad, led to a devastating industrial crisis.

Since half of the 1990s, Bilbao is in a process of deindustrialization and transition to a service city, supported by investment in infrastructure and urban renewal, that started with the opening of the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum (the so-called Guggenheim effect), and continued with the Euskalduna Conference Centre and Concert Hall, Santiago Calatrava’s Zubizuri, the metro network by Norman Foster, the tram, the Iberdrola Tower and the Zorrozaurre development plan, among other. Many officially-supported associations, as Bilbao Metrópoli-30 and Bilbao Ría 2000 were created to monitor this projects.

Plaza Eliptica Gobierno Civil - Javier Mediavilla Ezquibela Euskal Museo © Zarateman El Arenal © Zarateman BBVA, ex Banco de Comercio © Zarateman Bilbao Collage © Fernando Pascullo Bilbao Cathedral © Noebse Bilbao Arena © Xabi1980 Ayuntamiento de Bilbao © AsturiasVerde Casco Viejo de Bilbao © Fernando Pascullo Calle Tendería - Casco Viejo © Olivier2000 Universidad de Deusto © Fernando Pascullo Teatro Arriaga © Zarateman Ribera Market © Martin253 Plaza Moyúa © Andreas Praefcke Plaza de Unamuno © Bpierreb La Ribera © Martin253 Jeff Koon's 'Puppy' in front of the Guggenheim Museum © Noebse Guggenheim Museum Bilbao © Ardfern
<
>
Jeff Koon's 'Puppy' in front of the Guggenheim Museum © Noebse
Bilbao’s buildings display a variety of architectural styles, ranging from gothic to contemporary architecture. The Old Town features many of the oldest buildings in the city, as the St. James’ Cathedral or the Church of San Antón, included in the city’s coat of arms. Most of the Old Town is a pedestrian zone during the day. Nearby is one of the most important religious temples of Biscay, the Basilica of Begoña, dedicated to the patron saint of the province, Our Lady of Begoña.

Seventeen bridges save the banks of the estuary inside the city limits. Among the most interesting ones are the Zubizuri (Basque for “white bridge”), a pedestrian footbridge designed by Santiago Calatrava opened in 1997, and the Princes of Spain Bridge, also known as “La Salve”, a suspension bridge opened in 1972 and redesigned by French conceptual artist Daniel Buren in 2007. The Deusto Bridge is a bascule bridge opened in 1936 and modelled after the Michigan Avenue Bridge, in Chicago.

Since the deindustrialization process started in the 1990s, many of the former industrial areas are being transformed into modern public and private spaces designed by several of the world’s most renowed architects and artists. The main example is the Guggenheim Museum, located in what was an old dock and wood warehouse. The building, designed by Frank Gehry and inaugurated in October 1997, is considered among architecture experts as one of the most important structures of the last 30 years, and a masterpiece by itself. The museum houses part of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation modern art collection. Another example is the Alhóndiga, a wine warehouse built in 1909 and completely redesigned in 2010 by French designer Philippe Starck into a multi-purpose venue that consist of a cinema multiplex, a fitness centre, a library, and a restaurant, among other spaces. The Abandoibarra area is also being renovated, and it features not only the Guggenheim Museum, but also Arata Isozaki’s tower complex, the Euskalduna Conference Centre and Concert Hall and the Iberdrola Tower, designed by Argentine architect César Pelli and that will be, upon completion in 2011, the Basque Country’s tallest skyscraper with 165 metres (541 ft) high. Zorrozaurre is the next area to be redeveloped, following a 2007 master plan designed by Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid. This current peninsula will be transformed into an 500,000 m2 (5,400,000 sq ft) island and will feature residential and commercial buildings, as well as the new BBK seat.

Read more on City of Bilbao, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Wikitravel Bilbao and Wikipedia Bilbao. Learn more about the use of photos . To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facebook pages/Twitter accounts. In addition more and more destinations, tourist organisations and cultural institutions offer Apps for your Smart Phone or Tablet, to provide you with a mobile tourist guide (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




Recommended posts:

Share this post: (Please note data protection regulations before using buttons)

Paris Square in Haifa

Paris Square in Haifa

[caption id="attachment_241254" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Carmelite Compound © Marsharbt/cc-by-sa-4.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]The Paris Square also known as Hamra Square or the Churches District is a public square in Haifa, Israel, located in Downtown Haifa. It was built during the Ottoman period. The Hamra Square was a public space created in Haifa during the Ottoman period. It was surrounded by a market, Carmelite (St. Elias Carmelite Church) and Maronite (St. Louis the King Cathedral, Haifa) churches, hotels, etc. ...

[ read more ]

The port city of Cartagena in Colombia

The port city of Cartagena in Colombia

[caption id="attachment_153945" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Colonial street © Cbrough[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Cartagena de Indias is a large Caribbean beach resort city on the northern coast of Colombia in the Caribbean Coast Region and capital of Bolívar Department. The city had a population of 892,545 as of the 2005 census, making it the fifth-largest city in Colombia and giving the Cartagena urban area the status of fifth-largest urban area in Colombia. Cartagena is a centre of economic activity in the Caribbean, as ...

[ read more ]

Achrafieh in Beirut

Achrafieh in Beirut

[caption id="attachment_225927" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Moussa Sursock's palace © James Bradbury/cc-by-sa-4.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Achrafieh is an area in eastern Beirut, Lebanon. In strictly administrative terms, the name refers to a sector (secteur) centred on Sassine Square, the highest point in the city, as well as a broader quarter (quartier). In popular parlance, however, Achrafieh refers to the whole hill that rises above Gemmayze in the north and extends to Badaro in the south, and includes the Rmeil quart...

[ read more ]

Alexanderplatz in Berlin

Alexanderplatz in Berlin

[caption id="attachment_206548" align="aligncenter" width="590"] World Clock © Diego Delso/cc-by-sa-4.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Alexanderplatz is a large public square and transport hub in the central Mitte district of Berlin. The square is named after the Russian Tsar Alexander I and is often referred to simply as Alex, which also denotes the larger neighbourhood stretching from Mollstraße in the northeast to Spandauer Straße and the Rotes Rathaus in the southwest. With more than 360,000 visitors daily, Alexanderpl...

[ read more ]

Yankee Stadium in New York City

Yankee Stadium in New York City

[caption id="attachment_230160" align="aligncenter" width="590"] © flickr.com - Matt Boulton/cc-by-sa-2.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]The current Yankee Stadium is a baseball stadium located in the Bronx, New York City. It is the home field for Major League Baseball's New York Yankees and Major League Soccer's New York City FC. The $2.3 billion stadium, built with $1.2 billion in public subsidies, replaced the original Yankee Stadium in 2009 and is the third-largest stadium in MLB by seating capacity. It is located one block nort...

[ read more ]

Saint-Louis-lès-Bitche in Lorraine

Saint-Louis-lès-Bitche in Lorraine

[caption id="attachment_239991" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Saint-Louis crystal glass manufacturer © Gryffindor/cc-by-sa-3.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Saint-Louis-lès-Bitche (literally St. Louis near Bitche; German: Münzthal; Lorraine Franconian: Minzdal) is a commune in the Moselle department of the Grand Est administrative region in north-eastern France. The village belongs to the Pays de Bitche and to the UNESCO World Heritage Northern Vosges Regional Nature Park. As of the 2013 France census, the village's po...

[ read more ]

The Russian sail training ship Kruzenshtern

The Russian sail training ship Kruzenshtern

[caption id="attachment_152997" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Sail Amsterdam 2005 © Dirk van der Made[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]The Kruzenshtern or Krusenstern is a four masted barque and tall ship that was built in 1926 at Geestemünde in Bremerhaven, Germany as the Padua (named after the Italian city). She was surrendered to the USSR in 1946 as war reparation and renamed after the early 19th century Baltic German explorer in Russian service, Adam Johann Krusenstern (1770–1846). She is now a Russian Navy sail training shi...

[ read more ]

Haram esh-Sharif or Temple Mount in East Jerusalem

Haram esh-Sharif or Temple Mount in East Jerusalem

[caption id="attachment_221974" align="aligncenter" width="590"] © Andrew Shiva/cc-by-sa-4.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Known to Muslims as the Haram esh-Sharif ("the Noble Sanctuary", or "the Noble Sanctuary of Jerusalem") and the Al Aqsa Compound, and to Jews as Temple Mount ("Mount of the House [of God, i.e. the Temple in Jerusalem]"), is a hill in the UNESCO World Heritage Site Old City of Jerusalem that for thousands of years has been venerated as a holy site in Christianity, Islam and Islam, and Judaism alike. The ...

[ read more ]

Bahia Honda State Park in the Lower Florida Keys

Bahia Honda State Park in the Lower Florida Keys

[caption id="attachment_192749" align="aligncenter" width="590"] © flickr.com - KimonBerlin/cc-by-sa-2.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Bahia Honda (Spanish deep bay) is an island in the lower Florida Keys. U.S. 1 (the Overseas Highway) crosses the key at approximately mile markers 36-38.5, between Ohio Key and Spanish Harbor Key 12 miles (19 km) west of Marathon, close to the west end of the Seven Mile Bridge. The island is virtually uninhabited, being home to the 524-acre (2.12 km²) Bahia Honda State Park. Founded in 1961, the pa...

[ read more ]

Theme Week County Cork - Kinsale

Theme Week County Cork - Kinsale

[caption id="attachment_223815" align="aligncenter" width="590"] © flickr.com - psyberartist/cc-by-2.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Kinsale (Irish: Cionn tSáile, meaning 'head of the brine') is an historic port and fishing town in County Cork, Ireland, which also has significant military history. Located approximately 25 km (16 mi) south of Cork City on the southeast coast near the Old Head of Kinsale, it is located at the mouth of the River Bandon. Its population was 5,281 at the 2016 census. Its population increases during the ...

[ read more ]

Return to TopReturn to Top
Plönlein, former market square, Sieberstor (left) and Koboltor (right) © Berthold Werner
The medieval town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Bavaria

Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a town in the district of Ansbach of Mittelfranken (Middle Franconia), the Franconia region of...

Turin Collage © DanieleDF1995
Turin, capital of the Alps

Turin is a city and major business and cultural centre in northern Italy, capital of the Piedmont region, located mainly...

New Orleans Montage © Gonk/Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0
New Orleans Now

The Facts About What Happened Hurricane Katrina was the greatest natural disaster in the history on the United States. The...

Close