General information

Over the past twenty years, Bilbao has been converted from an industrial town into what it is today, cool and smart. It is now considered to be one of Spain’s cultural capitals, due to the Guggenheim museum. It is the biggest city in the Basque country with a population of 353,500.

In the year 1300, Bilbao was declared a city, which was primarily situated in Las Siete Calles area and San Anton and Abando wharves. The quays steadily moved further towards the coast. Trade improved following the conquest of America, and lots was transported to Boston. Steelworks and chemical plants dominated the city by the end of the 19th century. During Franco’s dictatorship, and after the Guernica attacks, there was word on the street about waste being sent to Bilbao. The town was taken by Franco in 1937.

Museums and Monuments of Bilbao

Among the most viewed is the Guggenheim Museum. This magnificent piece of architecture was designed by an American architect named Franck Gehry and visitors began to arrive to see the monument itself. They say it is one of the most impressive buildings in the world. The architect was inspired by the anatomy of a fish and the hull of a ship, which are two important elements of the history of Bilbao and are in perfect harmony near the river. It is made of titanium, glass and limestone so it looks like fish skin. The interior is ideal for exhibitions because of how well it has controlled the entrance of light and space. There are always collections of very famous artists such as Picasso, Miro or Klee. On the ground floor you can find the Fish Gallery which is longer than a football stadium. You can also go to one of the free guides of the museum or you can make your own stroll through the museum.


To take a look at the Guggenheim from another perspective, take the Artxanda funicular to the top of the hill, and enjoy a panoramic view of the city. Bilbao also has a Museum of Fine Arts (Plaza del Museo 2) which houses a large Gothic collection of 20th century art, which includes several works by typical Spanish artists, El Greco and Goya. There are several other famous sites in Bilbao, especially in the old city, such as the Cathedral of Santiago, the Plaza Nueva, or the Arriaga Theater.


As in all Spain, Bilbao has its annual festivals. The Carnival in February is a great event but it does not surpass the huge festival of Aste Nagusia that is celebrated the first Saturday that follows the 15 of August.