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In the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, the aristocracy settled along Gran Villa, the city’s main street, and it is lined with old palaces. One of them, the Chavarri Palace, is now a government building; another houses the Bank of Madrid. I spent a lot of time strolling up and down Gran Via with my camera.
This pleasant street is about a mile long, with a big statue at each end. The statue of the city's founder is close to Old Town (just cross the nearest bridge.) The statue at the other end of the street is the Sagrado Corazon, in a small plaza. There is a large park just a block off the street at that end. Halfway In between, the Plaza Moyua is an attractive place to get off your feet for a few minutes. There is still another small park between the Plaza and the Corazon statue.
Written Apr 19, 2013
Address: Gran Via
We visited Mercado de la Ribera on a Saturday morning during our stay in Bilbao in December 2012.
This huge indoor market is located in an impressive building on the banks of the Nervion river at the southern edge of Bilbao's old town, Casco Viejo. It can be reached on foot from Casco Viejo metro station (take the exit onto Plaza Unamuno) in a little over 5 minutes.
It is apparently the largest covered market in Spain and, according to some, in the whole of Europe. It is certainly an impressive size, with hundreds of stalls laid out over two floors. Large stained glass windows allow colourful sunlight to shine through into the market hall.
I was looking forward to having a leisurely stroll around the stalls, picking up bits to eat en-route and sampling some local delicacies. I soon realised that this wouldn't be feasible; Mercado de la Ribera is where locals (and lots of them!) go to shop and take things home with them. The crowds were almost overwhelming in parts of the market and we struggled to walk between the stalls, let alone to browse them at a leisurely pace.
The stalls broadly fall into 4 categories:
Seafood – lots of stalls selling freshly caught fish of all kinds, crabs, lobsters, langoustines, prawns...
Meat – just as popular as the seafood stalls; selling chorizo, morcilla, legs of ham, pigs' heads, beef steaks, pork, lamb, chicken, sausages...
Fruit and vegetables – lots of colourful local produce...
Other delicacies – mushrooms, garlic, chilli peppers, local cheeses, nuts, olive oil, dairy products...
We didn't buy anything and we didn't eat anything (although there was a cafe on site) – but we enjoyed walking around the market watching locals filling their shopping bags with prime cuts of meat and fresh seafood and watching the vendors preparing and serving their produce to the eager crowds.
The market is open:
Monday - Friday: 8:00am - 2:00pm & 4:30pm - 7:00pm
Saturdays: 8:30am - 2:30pm
Mercado de la Ribera is a fascinating place to watch locals purchasing local produce, fresh seafood and meat products. It may even be Europe's largest covered market.
Written Jan 27, 2013
Address: Calle de la Ribera
Phone: 946 023 791
We took a ride on the Artxanda Funicular during our visit to Bilbao in December 2012.
The funicular takes passengers to the top of Artxanda mountain and provides excellent panoramic views over the city of Bilbao.
There are various attractions at the top of Artxanda mountain (including a hotel, restaurants, a park and sporting facilities) but we were there purely for the views.
As a cold winter wind blew across the mountain we stood and looked out over the city. To the left we could see Etxebarria Park and the rooftops of Casco Viejo, Bilbao's old town. Straight ahead, we could see the Nervion river, the high rise buildings of modern Bilbao, the Zubizuri bridge and a backdrop of mountains. To the right we could see the unmistakable sight of Bilbao's most famous icon – the Guggenheim Museum.
Crossing the park and looking away from the city centre, we could see the runway and terminal buildings of Bilbao airport and, further afield, we could just about make out the Atlantic coastline, but weather conditions weren't very favourable for long distance viewing that day.
The small park at the top of the mountain contained a few sculptures, water features and benches to sit on. It was desolate on a cold winter's day, but is probably much more lively on a sunny summer's day.
The bottom station of the funicular (on Plaza del Funicular) can be found just a few minutes walk away from Zubizuri bridge and the Nervion river.
One way tickets for adults cost a mere €0.92, with further discounts available for certain concessionary cardholders. You can only purchase one-way tickets, not return tickets. There is a ticket office in the upper station where you can purchase a ticket (at the same price) to come back down.
The length of the funicular's track is around 800 metres and is very steep in parts. The journey between the lower and upper stations takes a little under 3 minutes.
There are two funicular trains (each containing 5 or 6 good sized carriages) which pass each other on a loop midway along the track.
The funicular runs in each direction every 15 minutes from 7:15am until 10:00pm and until 11:00pm in the summer months. On Sundays and holidays, the funicular doesn't start running until 8:15am.
Be sure to take a short ride on the Artxanda Funicular! For less than 1 Euro, you'll be treated to breathtaking panoramic views over the city of Bilbao!
Written Jan 27, 2013
Address: Plaza del Funicular, Bilbao
There are 3 train stations in Bilbao, so best know your destination before trying your luck. The main station for RENFE is Bilbao-Abando which serves the major cities in Spain. Backing onto Abando and overlooking the river is Concordia with its lovely facade dating from 1902 which takes you along the coast to Santander and even Leon with FEVE trains. The third is Axturi the stop for Euskotren that goes up as far as San Sebastian and all the little villages on the way. This station will disappear from Eusotrens schedule shortly but will be maintained for the trams that turnaround here and go out to Guggenheim and as far as the major hospital at Basurto.
The art-deco Ribera market stands between the river and the old town. Built in 1929 and covering 10.000 sq.metres, it is the largest covered market in Europe. Open Mon-Fri from 8.00 to 14.00 and 17.00-19.00 plus Sat.from 8.00 to 14.30 and is closed on Sundays. Specialities of fish and seafood. Parts of it were closed in early July 2012 for renovation work.
San Anton church was built from 1422 but suffered much over the years and its tower had to be replaced in the 1770's. This is the church that features on Bilbao's coat of arms.
Written Aug 26, 2012
Although the weather was, at best, refreshing (14/15° C) after the Guggenheim we had a good walk on the two banks of the Nervion, crossing the river by the Deusto bridge and along to the town hall and the old quarter. Sights include the Deusto University, the beautiful fronted Old peoples Servants of Jesus health and home, the Zubizuri bridge and the town hall of Bilbao. Closer to the old quarter is the Arriaga theatre. An extended view is also to be had of Guggenheim and the De la Salve bridge. After walking round the "Casco Viejo" a further walk can be taken on the riverside past the Ribera market (under renovation in July 2012) and San Anton church to the Atxuri tram station for the ride back to the Guggenheim.
Written Aug 25, 2012
You will find this huge column at the western end of Gran Via Don Diego Lopez de Haro, on the Plaza de Sagrado Corazon. The column has a bronze statue on the top and was bult in the mid-1930's
We passed it on our way to the match at the nearby Sam Mames stadium.
Updated May 10, 2012
Address: Plaza de Sagrado Corazon
As I crossed the river via Puente San Anton, I passed the impressive Church of San Anton.
The church has high walls surrounding it and so I found it difficult to take it in as a whole. I saw it in various parts, as the walls gave me a glimpse every now and again as I wandered around the Old Town.
Written May 8, 2012
Address: Calle Ribera, 24 48005 Bilbao
I was heading to the Old Town of Bilbao and was wandering along the river to see some of the bridges. I enjoyed just wandering around.
I started off the bridge tour with Puente de la Merced, follwed by the Puente de la Ribera, and ended up further along the river at the more historical of the three bridges, Puente San Anton.
Puente San Anton was originally built between 1871 and 1877 and was the only bridge across the river at that time, making it of extreme importance.
The current bridge was reconstructed in 1937, after it was demolished in the Spanish Civil War.
Updated May 8, 2012
You'll find this huge bridge not too far from the Guggenheim Museum. It gives you some great views of the building. It is also called La Salve Bridge.
If you are on the other side of the river to the Guggenheim, then take the lift or if you are feeling energetic then climb the stairs.
Written May 3, 2012
You can't really miss this “towering” tower as you walk around the centre of Bilbao. Construction of the building began in March 2009 and it was officially inaugurated by King Juan Carlos I on 21 February 2012.
It’s certainly a statement of intent in the regeneration of Bilbao.
Written May 3, 2012
Address: Euskadi Plaza
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