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.
Among the notable buildings around the Plaza Moyúa, halfway down Bilbao's Gran Vía, is the Chavarri Palace. This is a beautiful building by Belgian architect, Paul Ankar, constructed in 1889 as a commission for businessman, Víctor Chávarri, who wanted it as a residence. The Chavarri Palace is built in a Flemish neorealist style, and is considered one of the most unusual examples of its kind in the city. The combination of colors and formal features result in a beautiful building that today houses the Gobierno Civil de Vizcaya (Biscay Civil Government). Stunning windows, balconies, gables, staircases and pointed garrets form an interesting structure which deserves to be admired.
This young park, opened in 1988, within a large expanse of land is considered the second biggest in Bilbao, after the Parque de Doña Casilda. It has various sculptures that represent the spirit of the union between different European peoples, an example of which is the Piedra de la Amistad (the Friendship Stone), a gift from the Count of Hampshire. There is a roller skating track and a frontón. Also, near one of the park's entrances, is the Txurdinaga Multi sports Complex.
Ederti opened in 1974 with an exhibition dedicated to Rodin. It marches to the rhythm of its own drum, and is open to any quality art, whether it be international or Spanish. Generally speaking, the exhibits favour paintings over sculptures. They have exhibited work by Chillida, Gordillo or Urrutikoetxea, as well as other prestigious artists. Besides the temporary exhibits, there is a permanent collection on display of artists who at one time or another exhibited their work here.
Established in 1971, Galería Bay-Sala is the brainchild of Spanish artist, Juan Bay Sala's son, Juan Bayón. This reputed gallery is known for its solo as well as group exhibitions featuring a wide range of regional artists. Primarily focusing on figurative art, this compact gallery showcases quality watercolor artworks that will surely impress you.
The Moyúa, also known as Elíptic, divides the Gran Vía in half. It was re-opened in 1997, though the original dates back to the 1940's. Because of the metro building works, it was dismantled in 1990 to be restored and re-opened years later respecting its original design, which was based on the formalist style of French Gardens. The low boxed hedges and great variety of flowering plants are an outstanding feature. The gardens near the central fountain, alongside their neighboring buildings—the mythic Hotel Carlton and the Civil Government headquarters, the Palacio de Chávarri are also an attractive feature.
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.