Designed by Canadian American architect Frank Gehry, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao building represents a magnificent example of the most groundbreaking 20th-century architecture. With 24,000 m2, of which 9.000 are dedicated to exhibition space, the Museum represents an architectural landmark of audacious configuration and innovating design, providing a seductive backdrop for the art exhibited in it.
Altogether, Gehry’s design creates a spectacular sculpture-like structure, perfectly integrated within Bilbao’s urban pattern and its surrounding area.
The Euskalduna Palace Conference Centre or Euskalduna Palace Conference and Performing Arts Centre, was the second building built in the urban area of Abandoibarra after the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Opened in 1999, it was designed by architects Federico Soriano and Dolores Palacios in corten steel as a symbol of the last vessel built in the old Euskalduna shipyard, wich had occupied this space for decades. It now runs a full programme of concerts, opera and theatre.
The transporter bridge linking Las Arenas (Getxo) and Portugalete, declared a heritage monument by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, is more than 125 years old. Designed by the architect, Alberto Palacio, a disciple of Gustave Eiffel, it was opened in 1893.
Vehicles and foot passengers are transported in a gondola, suspended from a rail by 36 wheels and measuring 25 metres long, which travels along the rails of the horizontal crossbar. The gondola operates 24 hours a day. The walkway is open from 10:00 until sunset.
The work of Sancho Martínez de Arego, it is built on the site where the Virgin appeared in a vision in the early sixteenth century, and it is mainly Gothic, but mixes several styles. The Basilica is a must for many citizens of Bilbao, who come daily to this sanctuary to venerate the Virgin of Begoña, patron saint of Bizkaia, known locally as the ‘Amatxu’ (Mother).
Seafaring people are also greatly devoted to the Virgin and as a result, there have been many boats registered in Bilbao with the name "Virgin of Begoña" or simply "Begoña" since the 16th century. In addition, it is the custom of sailors to salute the Sanctuary and sing the ‘Salve Regina’ when they first see the church from afar as they come up the river.
The "Amatxu" of Begoña, as she is popularly known, receives a heartfelt tribute from residents of Bilbao and Biscay on both 15 August and 11 October, the day of Our Lady of Begoña. On those dates, thousands of pilgrims from throughout the Historical Territory walk through the night to attend a mass in honour of the patron saint of Bilbao and Biscay at the Basilica that bears her name and is one of the great symbols of the city.
The origin of the current museum is in the first Fine Arts Museum, founded in 1908 and opened in 1914 and the Modern Art Museum opened in 1924. Both institutions and their collections were united in 1945, the year that the old building was constructed.
The collection of the Fine Arts Museum, which opened in 1914, brings together over seven thousand works of art, including paintings, sculptures, works on paper and applied arts, with an outstanding heritage spanning from the twelfth century to the present. It contains important examples of ancient, modern and contemporary painting and has a special interest in the Spanish school of art and in Basque artists, by whom it has a large collection of works.
The Ría de Bilbao Maritime Museum was opened in 2003. Designed by the architect Juan Francisco Paz, the museum is located under the Euskalduna Bridge. The building, with a surface area of 7,000 square metres, is built using stone, steel and wood, materials that recall the ones used in shipbuilding.
The lobby is the pivotal point of the whole inner space, as it provides access to the exhibition area, the store, coffee shop, workshops and media library. The outside area of the museum is the old dry docks of the former Astilleros Euskalduna shipbuilders and has a surface area of 20,000 square metres.