The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is without a doubt the city’s most famous sight – a huge metal structure, almost ship-like in appearance, undulating its way along the Nervión River and sparkling like fish scales. It was designed by the architect Frank Gehry and inaugurated in 1997. Many of the museum’s most famous pieces are located outside, such as this giant spider entitled Mamen by Louise Bourgeois.
Bilbao’s Casco Viejo or Old Town is one of the most picturesque and atmospheric parts of the city, filled with cobbled streets and colourful old apartment buildings.
The Plaza de Federico Moyúa is one of the most striking in the city – a central fountain, surrounded by English and French-style sculpted gardens. The plaza is known locally as Elliptical Square, because of its shape, and was built in the early 1940s by the architect Jose Luis.
The old Casco Viejo area is filled with charming hidden corners such as this one, home to the Cafe Bar Bilbao. Established in 1911, it is a traditional drinking spot, decorated inside in the Belle Époque style, and serves up delicious pintxos (Basque-style tapas).
Another picture of the Guggenheim Museum, and this time a close up of artist and sculptor Anish Kapoor’s Tall Tree & The Eye, featuring 73 reflective spheres.
The city’s Doña Casilda Iturrizar Park is one of the best in Bilbao, and makes for a lovely afternoon out, especially in spring or summer. It’s located in the neighbourhood of Indautxu, just behind the famous Fine Art Museum or Museo Bellas Artes, and is filled with fountains, ponds and flower gardens.
The city’s Town Hall or Ayuntamiento is quite a sight to behold, with its intricate façade, built in the 19th century. The inside is definitely worth a look too, filled with sparkling chandeliers, delicate vases and impressive detail. Of particular interest is the Arab Hall, decorated with Moorish style arches. Guided tours can be arranged by prior appointment on weekdays only.
A picturesque vista of the city, looking down the River Nervión, towards La Ribera Market, Bilbao’s colourful town houses and the lush mountains beyond.
Another picture of the outside of the Town Hall, and this time featuring Jorge Oteiza’s Variante Ovoide de la Desocupación de la Esfera sculpture. Oteiza was one of the most important Basque artists of the 20th century.
This stunning stained glass window can be found in Bilbao’s Abando train station and features typical Basque scenes and landmarks, such as the Basilica de Begoña, the bridge of San Antón, farming, the steel industry, fishing and sport.
The city’s Zubizuri Bridge, means ‘white bridge’ in Basque and is a public footbridge across the River Nervión. The bridge is also known by two other names – the Puente Campo Volantín, because it joins onto Campo Volantín street and the Puente Calatrava, after the architect Santiago Calatrava who designed it.
Besides the Guggenheim, one of the most interesting city buildings is the Alhóndiga, a large cultural, leisure and events space. The building was once a warehouse for storing wine, until it was abandoned for many years. In the late 90s, the famous French designer Philippe Starck, took on the project of redesigning the building and created a unique space. Today, only the façade of the original early 20th century building remains; its most striking features are its 43 uniquely designed columns, upon which it seems to rest.
At 100,000 metres squared, La Ribera Market is the largest indoor market in Europe. Located in the Old Town, next to the river, a market has existed on this same location since the 14th century. The current building was designed in 1929 by the architect Pedro Ispizua, and today it’s a great place to stock up on local produce and indulge in Basque cuisine.
Bilbao’s Santiago Cathedral is the city’s oldest building, and dates back to the time of the Jacobean pilgrimages in the 14th century. Mainly Gothic in style, its two façades and bell tower, were re-built at later dates. On one side its style is Renaissance and on the other it is neo-Classical.
Another of the most famous sculptures outside the Guggenheim is Puppy by the artist Jeff Koons – a giant puppy covered in bedding plants and blooming flowers.
The Puente de La Salveis bridge crosses the river next to the Guggenheim and is encompassed by a large red structure, known as Arcos Rojos, which was designed by Daniel Buren for the 10th anniversary of the museum.
The magnificent Guggenheim Museum, as seen in its entirety, from above, with the city backdrop and mountains in the background.
Bilbao’s other famous church – the Basilica de Begoña stands on a hill overlooking the Casco Viejo. Built in the 16th century, it is mainly Gothic but also has Renaissance elements.
One of Bilbao’s most picturesque squares located in the Casco Antiguo is Plaza Miguel Unamuno, filled with cafes and restaurants, and located near the city’s Archaeological Museum.
An atmospheric nighttime shot of the La Salveis bridge with its red Arcos Rojos artwork, and Louise Bourgeois’ Mamen spider sculpture.
A charming street located in Bilbao’s Old Town – the streets are just perfect for getting lost in.
The Zubizuri Bridge as seen from underneath, at dusk.
The Plaza de Federico Moyúa taken in spring, when the surrounding gardens are in full bloom.
A row of multi-coloured townhouses – a typical scene in Bilbao.
The beautiful wrought-iron balconies on the buildings here mean that you should always look up, as well as in front of you.