18 November 2016

Architecture and River Views of Bilbao

As I mentioned earlier, I have visited Bilbao recently. This was my second visit to Spain (my first visit was to Barcelona in 2013), and my first visit to the Basque Country and northern Spain. Granted, I was here for work purposes, as I had a conference to attend, but I also took time to explore the city a little bit and enjoy it. For example, on the day I arrived, I followed a walking tour of the city. I arrived rather early in the day, so I still had a whole afternoon for myself.

I was staying in the Casco Viejo, or the Old Town. This was a good location. Even though it was rather full with people, once you're in the hotel, it was not noisy at all. I definitely had a good sleep during the times I was there. Anyway, this was also the start of the walking tour.

The first thing to see was the Teatro Arriaga, which was built in 1890 on the edge of the river. It shows musicals and other productions; during the time I was there, it was showing Mamma Mia! I think. I didn't buy a ticket so I don't know the interior of this theatre.

Anyway, I walked along the river bank, on the east side. Soon enough, I stumbled upon the Town Hall.

The town hall dates from the late 19th century, and when I was there, there was a wedding party taking pictures in front of it.

The river slowly bends, and eventually I ended up on the north side of it. I then crossed a modern bridge, the Puente Zubizuri, which was designed by Santiago Calatrava. He's an infamous architect here in Spain, who is known for eye-catching designs that don't have much functionality. He also designed the airport here in Bilbao, which also has structural problems. And yes, even this bridge has structural problems as well. Needless to say, even though I find his designs striking, I also don't like the fact that his buildings are problematic from a functionalist point of view, and therefore I am not a fan of his work.

After crossing the bridge, one then slowly sees the city's most striking landmark: the Guggenheim Museum. This museum was designed by Canadian architect Frank Gehry. I have exterior shots of the building above: I also visited the interior of this museum, but since photographs are not allowed inside, I don't have anything to show you. Outside the museum, you'll see a gigantic spider as well as a gigantic dog made of flowers. These are statues entitled Maman, by Louise Bourgeois, and Puppy, by Jeff Koons.

Walking further towards the west, you'll eventually see the tallest building in the region, the Iberdrola Tower. I then turned left, and entered the Parque de Dona Casilda de Iturrizar.

Afterwards, I headed towards the center of downtown. I saw several old buildings, including the Flemish-style Palacio de Chavarri, as well as the grand Hotel Carlton. There are several other pretty-looking buildings in town, such as the ones depicted by my photos above.

Bilbao is sexy and pretty, in my opinion. It's not a large city like Madrid or Barcelona, but it has enough to make visitors busy for a couple of days. I definitely enjoyed my stay here, mostly because of the very good food offerings in town. Oh those pintxo bars were rather delightful! It's a small city, and I think I have seen most of it, but I definitely would love to come back, if not only to eat.


  1. We have the same "maman" spider by artist Louise Bourgeois in Ottawa. I love this sculpture!

    1. Zhu,

      Yeah, I think I saw some pictures of the Ottawa sculpture in your blog in the past. I like these artworks where the audience can interact with it, instead of just being restricted to viewing from afar.