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.
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.
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.
You'll find this park alongside Bilbao's Gran Vía and you can escape from the traffic to spend some peaceful time walking along the pathways amongst an amazing diversity of majestic trees. It was laid out between 1912 and 1920 along the lines of an English country house gardens and it boasts four ponds. The most popular sites are the duck pond and the pergola pond, with its spectacular cybernetic fountain that offers a veritable sound and light show during the summer. Next door, you can visit the impressive Museo de Bellas Artes (Fine Arts Museum). All parks in Bilbao are open 24 hours a day.
The Catedral de Santiago was constructed in the 16th Century, but the exact date is uncertain. What is known is that at that time it could be seen from any street in the city, with the cloister on the west and the porch on the north west. Times change, however, and it is now somewhat hidden behind new buildings. It could be considered the foundation stone on which Bilbao was built, as the seven streets of the old city converged at the Gothic-style Cathedral, which dates back to the time of St. James, before the city was built. The Cathedral is located in the Plaza de Santiago, which shares its name.
In Gran Vía, between Plaza Moyúa and Sagrado Corazón, is a grand structure built in 1919 and occupied by the Sota family during its early days. One striking feature this magnificent building has (an early example of luxurious residential architecture in 19th century Bilbao) is its facade, with towers, arched galleries, pronounced eaves, turrets and pinnacles. It is a clear example of the regionalist tendencies and mountain influences that are evident in its creator's earlier work, the Atxuri station. Social drawing rooms and rooms formerly designed as family quarters are today partly used to house various offices. On the ground floor of the building are several important fashion outlets.
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.
Built in 1920 by Gregorio Ibarreche, the Palacio de Ibaigane houses one of the most loved and followed institutions in Vizcaya: the headquarters of the hundred-year-old Athletic Club de Bilbao. Initially intended to be the La Sota family's residence, and later to house the Vizcayan Military Government, today this building in the style of the palaces of the first Baroque, holds within its walls the secrets of the football club supported by thousands of Vizcayans. On its facade, notice the outstanding and popularly inspired architectural motifs, the main characteristics of which are the framework of exposed brick, a short-arched entrance and the gables of the many projections. The trophies hall can be visited too.
Located in the Guggenheim Bilbao, this unique art installation is a topiary masterpiece. It was created by celebrated American sculptor Jeff Koons who takes his cartoon-inspired work up a notch with this 13-meter (43-foot) installation of a West Highland terrier called Puppy. The entire sculpture is crafted from living plants, replicating a style used in 18th-century palace gardens. Having been exhibited around the world, it is now part of the museum’s permanent collection.
Equivalent to the Twin Towers, the Isozaki Atea are the tallest residential buildings in the city of Bilbao with as many as 22 levels, the first two of which are used by companies and other commercial concerns. The towers, which are 83 meters (272 feet) high and are quite impressive to look at in their glass-windowed magnificence, were built by the well renowned Japanese architect, Arata Isozaki.