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Best Landmarks in Bilbao

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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.

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.

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.

The University of Deusto, the educational work of the Jesuits, is situated opposite the Bilbao estuary and the Guggenheim Museum, and it is comprised of various buildings, among which the Deusto Business School stands out. This was built by the architects, Emiliano Amann and José María Basterra, in 1921. It is a building whose facade has neoclassical lines. The building that houses the Deusto school of Literature was built in 1886 by Francisco de Cubas and José María Basterra. The floors are organized from two cloisters in a double trident scheme. In the building's main façade, the classical, romantic and medieval styles are combined. Inside the building the library, chapels and main hall are all worthy of note. There are various courses in Humanities, Tourism, Business and other fields. Check website for more details.

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.

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.

The Zubizuri, also known as the Campo Volantín Bridge (Puente del Campo Volantín), crosses the Nervion River in central Bilbao. The bridge was designed by Santiago Calatrava, and has a very modern look, consisting of an arched design with steel suspension cables, with the deck of the bridge being made of translucent glass bricks. This landmark it is impossible to miss on any trip to Bilbao.

Artxanda Funicular, an unusual means of transport was built in 1913 by the Swiss company Von Roy and opened in 1915. Its activity was interrupted, however, during the Civil War. The present installations were opened in 1983 and the old wooden carriages were replaced with metal ones with a capacity of 70 people. The 3 minute trip, with a climb of 226 meters, allows the passenger to contemplate the beautiful city panorama, as well as to enjoy one of the most frequented recreational sites in Bilbao.

It is a vital space named after one of the most significant figures within the world of literature and philosophy to have come out of Bilbao. Unamuno was born in one of the properties still preserved in popular Ronda street, near the square. Perched on top of a large column, the statue of this great Bilbaoan author - the work of Victoriano Macho - observes the daily coming and going of people. The past and the present live together in this square - close to Calzadas de Mallona - from where the roads might take us to La Cruz street, with the impressive grouping of Santos Juanes church and its cloister with the premises of the Museum of Archaeology, Ethnography and Basque History. We can also move off towards Iturribide street, one of the most typical bar areas, that becomes a recreational focal point for youngsters at weekends. During Bilbao's Semana Grande (Big Week Festival), this square is taken over for concerts and other activities planned for these popular fiestas.

This rural castle in the medieval military style is situated in the San Martín district of the Muskiz municipality. Surrounded by a landscape of fields and marshes, the Muñatones castle was declared an Historic-Artistic monument in 1944 and was acquired four years later by the Statutory Deputation of Vizcaya which made itself responsible for is restoration. In 1968 the palace next to it was handed over to the State to be converted into a state-run hotel. Years later the oil company Petronor acquired the properties and took responsibility for their conservation. The castle's image corresponds fundamentally with that of a medieval fortification occupied during its beginnings by the Muñatones family and later by the Salazars. Among its main features stands out the exterior wall fitted with battlements whose main purpose was defensive. Its tower, today in a state of ruin, is large and solid, with 75 meters of 3-meter-thick wall remaining. This medieval fortress in the Somorrostro valley is well worth a visit.

Leaving the small square of the Catedral de Santiago and coming into Bidebarrieta street, on the left-hand side is found one of the most interesting corners in the Casco Viejo (Old Quarter): la Fuente del Perro (the Dog Fountain). This unusual and at the same time beautiful fountain, from which the street in which it is situated is named, got its name from the resemblance the three small lions that adorn its spouts bear to dogs. Conserved as one of the many fountains traditionally found in this urban center, the Fuente del Perro, neoclassical in style with three half point arches, stands out for its drinking trough, built to resemble a paleo-Christian sarcophagus. The calle Perro (Perro Street), one of the most typical poteo (social wine drinking) areas in Bilbao, has a plaque showing the level the water reached when the estuary flooded in 1983.

The Mercado Antiguo Lavadero is Bilbao's old market, gaining its name from its original incarnation as a laundry house in the early 20th Century. This historic building is a beautiful example of Modernist style architecture. The area is lively and full of great shopping.

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