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Top Rated Attractions in Bilbao

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Basilica of Begoña

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.

Gran Vía

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.

Doña Casilda Iturrizar Park

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.

Catedral de Santiago

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.

Plaza Circular

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.

Ayuntamiento de Bilbao

Opened in 1892, the building that houses Bilbao's city council is the work of the architect Joaquin Rucoba, who also built the Arriaga Theatre. Among its principal features is a main exterior wall lavishly decorated in the Baroque style. The busts and statues adorning the Ayuntamiento de Bilbao are of illustrious personages of the Bilbao social scene. It was built upon the ruins of the old San Agustin convent. Climbing the exterior steps and entering the building, the first thing that stands out is the central staircase which meets with the most attention-grabbing spot in the town hall: the beautiful and singular Arab salon or reception area. This is a place of unusual beauty in which the main public evens take place. The town hall's interior can be visited during the mornings all week at no charge. The most important features can be seen through a half hour guided tour. Check website for more details.

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