Bilbao Fact Sheet

BILBAO, Spain

Bilbao has been around since 1300, but as a destination it made its debut on the international scene in October 1997. That was when the Guggenheim opened..the most audacious building of the 20th century.”

           -Shanka Guha, Financial Times, Jan 25, 2003

MUSE

YouTube: Bilbao, A Fascinating Transformation
YouTube: Bilbao, La Transformación Fascinante

General Information
(For additional details click on the words underlined)

Bilbao is one of the largest cultural and economic centers in the north of Spain. It is currently undergoing a process of renovation that accounts for the transformation in the image of the city. With a population of some 400,000 people and a large metropolitan area, the former industrial city of Bilbao has become a modern city of services.

At this moment in its history, Bilbao has become synonymous with the truly impressive Guggenheim Museum.  Located right across the University of Deusto, the Museum has come to represent the transformation of the city, but is just a small part of a larger Renaissance symbolized by the new subway (Metro), the Convention and Music Hall Center, and the Abandoibarra area of service. It is, above all, a change that has allowed the institutions and culture of the old city to be rediscovered and re-launched: the Old Quarter, the Fine Arts Museum, the Arriaga Theater, and the highly acclaimed Basque Cuisine.

Weather

The climate in the Basque Country (or Euskadi) is wet oceanic on the coast, and continental inland. The temperatures are mild throughout the year, with more frequent rain in spring and autumn, mild winters, and summers which are not excessively hot. The average temperature in the summer is around 24º Celsius (75º F), and 8º C (46º F) in the winter.

There are several beaches close to Bilbao which are within the Metro range. The closest one where you can swim and surf is Ereaga or Sopelana, about 20′ to 35′ by Metro. The best beach for swimmers is Plentzia beach, at the end of the Metro line (45′).

Culture

The flagship museum is the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum. The Fine Arts Museum located just 2 blocks form the Guggenheim, is only second to the Prado Museum in Madrid. The summer music festivals, namely, the Jazz Festival in Vitoria, San Sebastian and Getxo, near Bilbao, are examples of the interesting cultural activity throughout the year.

Food  

The Basque Country is famous for its cuisine. The fresh seafood, together with the excellent chefs, ensure unique dining experiences. There are many restaurants that offer what is called "Menú del día" (daily special), which is generally good, and very reasonably priced. You can also eat "a la carta,” which usually gives you more options, but is more expensive.

There are also places were you can go for fast food and order "bocadillos" (sandwiches in baguette bread), or "tapas,” which are called "pinchos" in the Basque Country (small portions of food, very popular in Spain). Another type of restaurant is called "cerveceras,” where you can order roasted chicken and "tortilla española" (omelet with potatoes). In restaurants, tips are included in all prices and checks, and therefore it is not necessary to leave a tip. However, a tip can be given if one considers it appropriate to show satisfaction for good service.

The Basque Country (Euskadi)  

Economic: The Autonomous Community of the Basque Country has a per capita income that is ten points above the Spanish average. Services are a major feature of the Basque economy. The Basque Country has a century-old industrial tradition, focused basically on the steel factories and shipyards, which have made the Basque Country highly competitive in European markets.

Political: The Basque Autonomous Community enjoys a high degree of self-government under the Basque Government and parliament. It also has a Basque police force, its own Basque broadcasting service and treasury departments with their own tax systems. It can also make its own decisions with respect to health, education, housing, and cultural issues, among others. This system of self-government is based on the Statute of Autonomy of the Basque Country, a General Act of Parliament approved by the majority of Basque citizens in a referendum on October 25, 1979 .

The Basque Country is organized into three provinces: Vizcaya (Bizkaia), Guipuzcoa (Gipuzkoa) and Alava (Araba). The capitals are Bilbao (Bilbo), San Sebastián (Donosti), and Vitoria (Gazteiz), respectively.

If you want more information on Bilbao you can find it by clicking on the following web sites:

  1. http://www.bilbao.net/bilbaoturismo (City’s official website)
  2. http://www.cascoviejobilbao.com (Site for the Old Town)
  3. http://euskal-museoa.org (Basque History Museum)
  4. http://www.guggenheim-bilbao.es/idioma.htm (Guggeheim Museum offical site)
  5. http://www.aena.es/ae/bio (Information on Bilbao’s airport)
  6. http://www.bm30.es/homegug_uk.html , http://www.metropla.net/eu/bil/bilbao.htm (Information on Bilbao ‘s metropolitan area)
  7. http://www.virtourist.com/europe/bilbao/index.html (Pictures of the city)
  8. http://www.termibus.com (Main bus station servicing the rest of the country and parts of Europe)