English / History / Photography / Travel

Beautiful Bilbao

Last week I spent 4 days in Bilbao with friends from Spanish conversation group. We chose this city because it is only 2 hours flight from Amsterdam. And unlike most tourists who prefer to visit Madrid, Barcelona or Sevilla, we wanted to explore another Spanish city.

Bilbao is a capital of Basque region in north of Spain. Basque is the official language together with Spanish. I will write another post about Basque region and its people.

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Bilbao has approximately 350.000 inhabitants. Its climate is mild due to its location which is surrounded by hills. River Nervión runs through it, dividing this vibrant but yet cozy city into the modern and old parts.

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History
Built in 1300 Bilbao consisted only of the Cathedral de Santiago Bilbao and three streets. This area is now known as Casco Viejo or Siete Calles (seven streets). I slept in this medieval quarter.

After numerous wars, floods and industrial revolution, local government expanded the city with Gran Via (the main boulevard). As soon as Spanish civil war started in 1936, Bilbao became the capital of Basque government. Basque people were against Franco. He in turn punished them by giving Nazi and Mussolini’s army permission to destroy the city during the war.

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Bilbao got an enormous boost in its image and beauty by the arrival of the Guggenheim Museum. This museum was opened in 1998. Since then Bilbao has explored and provided space for modern architecture.
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Zubizuri bridge, an arch form bridge built by architect Santiago Calatrava. It was once despised by the locals, now it is one of the city landmarks.

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Walk!
My friends and I walked a lot. We strolled along the river Nervión and notices the gradually change of the atmosphere, from tiny old apartments to office buildings and design apartments.

I highly recommend to explore the city by foot. The walking paths are wide, there are numerous benches where you can rest. My friends thought of hiring a bike but we did not do it. I prefer to walk instead cause Bilbao is hilly.

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Parque Iturrizar de Doña Casilda. I would not have found this beautiful, tiny park if I took the bus, tram or metro.

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A green passage at Parque Iturrizar de Doña Casilda.

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One of the two Roman statues at Parque Iturrizar de Doña Casilda.

20140514-000209.jpgPlaza Nueva, the biggest plaza in Bilbao. This building is called Euskaltzaindia, The Royal Academy of the Basque Language.

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In the arcade there are numerous bars. Plaza Nueva is the place to be for Pintxos, Basque’s version of Tapas. Each Sunday morning this square is transformed into an antique market.

Transport
Should you need to take the public transport, busses, metro and tram are cheap and clean. One way ticket costs € 1,50. The metro has only two lines. From the Bilbao airport the shuttle bus Bizkaibus leaves once in 30 minutes to the city center and vice versa. The 15 minutes ride costs € 1,40. Prices are from May 2014.

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The departure hall at the Bilbao airport.

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The Bilbao airport is tiny. It only has 4 gates. I love the design, it allow much natural light inside the building.

Me encanta Bilbao, I love Bilbao. The city, the people, the food and the weather are lovely. It is one of the safest cities in Spain. The prices are lower compared to those of Barcelona, Madrid and Sevilla. I believe I will be back someday.

Read my other posts about Bilbao:
Casco Viejo
A visit to Guggenheim
Alhóndiga Bilbao
Culinary Tour Bilbao

Sources:
Capitol Guide
Ayuntamiento de Bilbao

Spanish map is courtesy of Studyabroad.

22 thoughts on “Beautiful Bilbao

  1. Uhhhhh bersih banget. dan mbak yo aku baru ingat secara mbak yo juga suka baca sejarah (mitu mbak) knapa orang eropa (jaman dulu) suka sculptures ya mbak? Michaelengelo (pemahat kan dia? Tolong koreksi kalau salah) sangat populer. Aku tanya beberapa teman mreka blum bisa jawab. Menurut mbak? Terimakasih

    • Dari dulu di Eropa patung dan lukisan satu-satunya karya seni yang ada. Ada masanya patung dan lukisan hanya boleh mempunyai thema dari alkitab karena thema selain itu menurut gereja murtad. Patung dan lukisan pun biasanya dipasang di dalam tempat ibadah. Setelah itu thema Pagan (non religius) diterima dan mulailah para bangsawan koleksi patung dan lukisan. Karya seni ini fungsinya sebagai penghias rumah/kastil bahkan makam keluarga. Waktu itu normal untuk pesen patung/lukisan dengan wajah/tubuh kita kalo punya uang, untuk jaman sekarang seperti kita ke fotografer lah. Semakin banyak pematung/pelukis, semakin banyak pemesan karya mereka. Di Golden Age yang punya uang bukan hanya bangsawan tapi juga saudagar kaya. Merekalah yang membuat patung/lukisan accessible untuk rakyat kebanyakan.

      Jaman Michelangelo itu patung/lukisan harus berthema dari alkitab. Order untuk berkarya datangnya dari Paus dan pemerintah. Michelangelo bukan hanya pematung, dia juga pelukis dan arsitek, karyanya banyak dari langit-langit Sistine Chapel sampe monumen. Semoga terjawab pertanyaannya Ru.

  2. Khas kota2 diluar Indonesia itu pada teratur yah mba Yo. Seneng lihat sungai bersih gitu, trus jembatannya cantik. Dan baru tahu ada kota nama Bilbao ini.. Menanti cerita selanjutnya mba Yo🙂

    • Ngga semua kota di luar Indonesia bersih sih Py. Dibanding kota-kota di Belanda, Bilbao ini memang bersih banget sih. Besar juga kotanya.

  3. Gak ke stadion San Mames ya mbak? hehehe…stadion klub paling unik di Spanyol tuh. Jadi semakin pengen kesini deh. Bisa2 rencanaku jadi “tur Spanyol”, bukan “tur Eropa” nih.

    • Yes, tapi ngga aku pajang fotonya karena ngga gila bola😉 Lagipula San Mames sekarang lagi direnovasi, ditambah 1 ring untuk tempat duduk penonton.

  4. Yen, Bilboa deket San Sebastian ya, I always wanted to go to San Sebastian:) Maybe one day!! You must be having tapas a lot over there?

    • Ngga jauh dari Bilbao ke San Sebastian, hanya 100 km. Gw pernah ke San Sebastian tahun 1997, kotanya juga cantik cuma Bilbao lebih compact centre villenya.

      Hmm, jangan sebut Tapas di tanah Basque. Disitu Tapas namanya Pintxos. Beda dikit sama Tapas, Pintxos itu irisan baguette dengan topping macem-macem. Kalo Tapas kan side dish porsi kecil seperti Albondigas & Patatas Bravas. Nanti gw tulis pos khusus ngebahas Basque culinary ok?

    • Wah seru, terbang ke Perancis terus roadtrip atau dari UK ke Perancis udah pake mobil? Eh kamu di UK kan?

      Yes, aku ke Guggenheim. Ini salah satu alasan utama ke Bilbao😉 Cerita kunjungan ke Guggenheim muncul minggu ini.

  5. Pingback: Beautiful Bilbao | Chez Lorraine | Bilbao Eurot...

  6. Pingback: Euskadi | Chez Lorraine

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