Destination - history and highlights of Bilbao
Bilbao is the 10th largest city in Spain, an industrial port city located on the river Nervión and its estuary that flows into the Bay of Biscay in the north of the country. The town is surrounded by two small mountain ranges. It is the home of our Spanish partner ESS-Bilbao who will be our hosts.
The city was founded by Diego López V de Haro in 1300 through a municipal charter. In 1372 it was declared a free port and soon became a major trading city based on the marine export of wool and iron ore extracted from Biscayan quarries. It is now one of the top 5 Spanish commercial ports.
Over the last couple of decades, many of the old industrialised areas are being rejuvenated giving way to modern architecturally interesting buildings, better parks and transport, social integration and restored historic areas. This urban transformation helped Bilbao win the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize -the Nobel prize for urbanism - in 2010, gain UNESCO City of Design status in 2014 and most recently won the European City of the Year in the 2018 Urbanism Awards.
Things to see
In the old town (Casco Viejo) some of the oldest buildings in the city can be found: the St James Cathedral and the Church of San Antón - which also features on the city shield.
The city has 17 bridges spanning the banks of the River Nervión. The Vizcaya Bridge is of particular interest as it is the world's first transporter bridge built in 1893 and now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The city is also home to many museums and art galleries including the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum and the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum. Other notable buildings are Iberdrola Tower and the Basilica of Begoña and of course there are many parks and plazas to explore. If you want a view there is also the funicular up Mount Artxanda.