Museo Guggenheim Bilbao's first exhibit included a collection of over 250 examples of cubist, futurist, constructivist and other 20th-century art movements. The museum features a permanent collection of late 20th-century art spotlighting more of the century's best creative talents including young Basque and Spanish artists. Famous works include those by renowned artists like Richard Serra, Willem de Kooning, and Clyfford Still. Frank O. Gehry designed this complex with spectacular curtains of glass, stone curves, titanium and glass walls, walkways hanging from the ceiling, transparent elevators and immense open spaces that offer a mesmerizing foil for the avant-garde art it houses.
Basilica of Begoña dominates the city from its hilltop location. It dates from the 16th Century and its most outstanding feature is the Renaissance-style main entrance. The main altar is an important example of the transition between the Romanesque and Gothic styles of architecture. The Basilica attracts tourists, agnostics and believers alike. No tourist visits are allowed during mass.
One of the largest parks in Bilbao since the 1980's, Parque Extebarria is located right in the city's old town, the Casco Viejo. This large green space is a favorite among the locals and visitors to Bilbao to relax and spend some time outdoors in nice weather. The park is especially popular among joggers and cyclists. Visitors can see the remnants of Bilbao's industrial past at the massive chimney that stands to this day. With beautiful views over the city, the park is a popular spot for evening strolls.
Great plays have been performed by some of the country's best actors in this much-loved theater over the years. Joaquin Ruboca designed the building using the Paris Opera House as a model to which he added some Renaissance touches. Outstanding architectural features of the Teatro Arriaga Antzokia include the two polygonal towers, the grand foyer, the mezzanine, the huge windows and the rooftop terrace with views of the river, Arenal and Campo Volantín. The elegantly furnished and sumptuously decorated interiors of this theater have a magnificent imperial staircase designed by Francisco Hurtado de Saracho. The theater opened in 1890 and was later named after a young local musician. Check website for exact schedule.
Gran Vía Don Diego Lopez de Haro, better known as simply Gran Vía, is one of Bilbao's main drags. The street begins at the famed Plaza Circular and runs northeast all the way to the Plaza del Sagrado Corazon. Gran Vía runs by many of the city's most famous attractions like the Plaza Moyua and the Palacio Chavarrí. A visit to the Gran Vía is almost impossible to miss during a trip to Bilbao.
This eclectically designed building, built by Severino Achucarro in 1888, was initially home to the historic and liberal Society called El Sitio. That was until 1937, when it was taken over by General Franco's government and later sold to the Bilbao Council. Its ballroom, today a lecture hall, located on the top floor, regularly hosts concerts and conferences. Opposite this area is a place called The Daily Life Room, which houses all the very latest publications. On the floor below is found the main study and reference room, next to a smaller one used for exhibitions. This library, through whose doors some of the most renowned personalities of European cultural life have passed, is not out of touch with modern times and has a computer room on the ground floor which anyone can use freely to surf the net.
Presided over by the statue of Don Diego López de Haro, Lord of Vizcaya and founder of Bilbao in 1300, the Plaza Circular constitutes one of the Gran Vía's end points. The buildings surrounding this much frequented and traveled through Bilbaoan square are mostly large and provide the headquarters for the main banks and other financial institutions. Among them stands out the BBVA bank skyscraper. In the entrance of this building there is a sculpture by the Basque artist, Eduardo Chillida, and next to it one of most famous fountains in Bilbao, used daily by many as a meeting place. From the Plaza Circular and going down Navarra street you will head towards the traditional Casco Viejo (Old Quarter), in the opposite direction there is the Gran Vía, the city's main thoroughfare.
The open floor plan of this gallery, inaugurated in 1995, is in itself a clear indication of its dedication to contemporary art. Some of the exhibitions organized are truly daring and can be appreciated only by the most insightful. Amasté's philosophy is exactly that: to open doors to contemporary artists, spanning several genres, such as photography, painting and sculpture and any other form of artistic expression, difficult to define as a "fine art". Ricardo Antón Troyas is the gallery director and his sister, Elena, runs the specialized shop for artists' supplies located in the back.
It moved to its current location in 1989, and under the leadership of Roberto Sáenz de Gorbea, it caters to the latest trends in painting, sculpture, photography and installation art. It has also become a member of the Basque Contemporary Art Galleries association. This simple, white-walled gallery has seen works by many Basque artists and renowned artists, such as Joan Brossa, Cristòfol and Oteiza. While the younger generation has been represented by Candaudap, Chus Meléndez, Sonia Rueda and Dora Salazar, among others. This gallery has always participated in the Contemporary Art Trade Fair (ARCO) in Madrid.
The Bilbao Fine Arts Museum houses one of Spain's most important modern art collections that includes work by the best Basque painters along with an excellent display of Gothic art as well as fine examples of the Dutch and Flemish schools. The museum also hosts classical music concerts and its cinema offers a program of Spanish and foreign language films. The Chillida Hall can be used to organize business meetings and conferences.You'll find it in the midst of the peaceful and pretty Doña Casilda Park.
There's a varied program of cultural activities on offer here and admission is free M-F and at weekends you can dance to the latest hits. The live shows are musical concerts, stand-up comics or café-theater performances and you can dine at the same time, choosing from a range of delicious house platters of cheeses, cured hams, cold meats and canapés. If you come for breakfast, try El camarote de los Hermanos Marx (The Marx Brothers' Cabin), a house special containing nine different types of ingredient. The interior has an atmospheric 1950s decor and you'll find it in the city's nightlife zone.