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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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Many sailors reached the banks of this wharf, because of which San Nicolás de Bari (patron saint of sailors) hermitage was built. It was converted into a temple in 1940 and today is perhaps considered one of the best known churches in Bilbao. Pebbled walkways, splendid banana and lime trees, bear witness to the many cultural activities organized in what has been converted into a beautiful and central point in Bilbao's fiestas. From here you can admire the Arriaga Theatre, the oldest in 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.
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.
Narrow winding streets, small squares and neighborhoods comprise this charming district that buzzes with activity every day of the year. As the heart of the old town, this area dates back to 1300 and in 1972 was recognized in statute as having great historical and cultural importance. After the disastrous floods in 1983 much of the district was rebuilt and improved. The Plaza Nueva, Plaza Miguel de Unamuno and Santiago Cathedral are particularly deserving of a visit, as are the many independently-owned boutiques that offer shoppers a wealth of choices.
Located at the Euskalduna Shipyard docks, the Museo Marítimo Ría de Bilbao boasts of a huge collection of nautical artifacts and objects. Spread across two floors, the museum's astounding collection showcases the traces and memorabilia belonging to the maritime activities. A tour across the museum will enlighten you on the nautical history and social and economic development of the people associated with the maritime. The museum dock also has an amazing display of various models of ships. With abundance of interesting facts and legacies to explore, this place is truly a delight for the inquisitive minds as well as for the general public as a whole.
This Museo Taurino was inaugurated in 1995 in the most appropriate place: the Vista Alegre Bullring. The permanent collection is a great way to find out about the most important eras and events in bullfighting history in Bilbao and Vizcaya, as well. They have on display, a great selection of bullfighting outfits, capes, swords and other tools used by famous matadors. The most famous bulls are also remembered here with their mounted heads. There's also a wonderful display of bullfighting posters for corridas held in Bilbao, many of them from the 19th Century. Besides visiting the museum, you can also stop by the bullring itself, the chapel, the bullfighters' locker room, the corral and other areas, all with a guided tour.
A good way to get to know a community is buy investigating its roots. The Museo Vasco, commonly known as the Basque Museum, is the right place for this endeavor. The permanent collection is dedicated to Prehistoric times and Archaeology in Vizcaya province and the Ethnography and History of the Basque Country. In the Pre-History section, special emphasis is placed on the ancient world of trade, old tools, early fabric-weaving, ceramics, weapon making and furniture. The Basque Sea hall is livened up by fun sound effects: shrill seagulls and furious waves. The Pastoral Culture hall, with bleating sheep and clanging cowbells in the background, will take you back in time. Finally, the Consulate hall, has an incredible model of the entire Vizcaya region. The museum also organizes temporary exhibits. In the shop you will find books, traditional Basque music and reproductions of items. Check website for more details.