City Hall vs Santiago Calatrava
The 28th of February of 2007 Isozaki Ateak residential complex was opened to the public. This complex that joins Ensanche and Uribitarte is going to be a new idleness space inspired in the Plaza de España of Rome.
The Isozaki proyect is composed by a 20 metres long footbridge made of concrete that joins Mazarredo area with a stair that brings us to an central open space of 1.000 squared metres called Plaza de la Convivencia (Living Together Square). In the middle of the square is an Eduardo Chillida´s monument, called "Buscando la Luz IV".
Isozaki Ateak is completed by other two footbridges that join Zubi Zuri and Uribitarte with the central space.
Although Bilbao´s last monument is open, there are still many legal problems around it. Santiago Calatrava, the architect who designed Zubi Zuri, has denounced the City Hall of Bilbao bacause he sais that Isozaki Ateak has modified the original structure of the Zubi Zuri bridge. By the other hand, the City Hall has denounced Calatrava because he sais that the floor of the Zubi Zuri was very slippery and they had to change it bacause many accidents took place here in rainny days. Some people was hurted because of that and they demanded the City Hall. This changes in the bridges floor were paid by the City Hall and that´s why they have demanded the architect. The controversial is still opened around Bilbao´s last monument!!
It´s probably one of the biggest parks in Bilbao. His official name is Doña Casilda Park, but it´s whidely known as Parque de los Patos (Park of the Duck) because there´s an artificial lake there with many ducks and swans.
Many students meet there in sunny days it´s about 10 minutes walking from Deusto University.
People from offices in Bilbao go there to have lunch, actually I used to go there to eat and read for a while in my first job as Computers Engeener.
It´s a famous square in the heart of the Old Part of Bilbao.
There are many balconies all around the square, and they are full of flowers in spring and summer.
Sometimes outdoor concerts take place here.
There are some bars with pintxos/tapas here.
Unfortunately I was too early for a visit to the Maritime Museum proper but the dock area around it is an open-air museum and art-space in its own right and so well worth coming across during my random meanderings.
The outdoor exhibition has examples of some of the craft which plied their trade up and down the river estuary with the odd arty anchor and chains tossed around. This is a popular area for morning joggers and brisk walkers on their way to work.
If your wanderings take you to the west of the Plaza Moyua you'll find the city's main park, the Parque de Dona Casilda, just off the Gran Via. This is the ideal spot to take the weight off or to relax and enjoy your takeaway lunch and great for just watching the world go by.
There's also a couple of cafes which abut the gardens and so you can enjoy a beer too!
Next to Estacion Bilbao a Santander is this tall building.
It is the first building taller than 40 meters to be built in Bilbao. (It reaches 43 metres and has 13 floors) It took 6 years to complete. The architects were Jose Maria Chapa and Manuel Ignacio Galindez.
From 1946 until 1968, it remained the tallest building in Bilbao, this changed with the construction of the BBVA Tower.
This was the building that I mentioned earlier that I'd return to, it is the Ferrocarril de Santander a Bilbao or the Bilbao to Santander Railway station. It is also known as Estación de La Concordia de Bilbao. It is located in the Ensanche neighbourhood, on the banks of the River Nervion, facing the Arriaga Theatre.
The station was built between1898-1902 by Valentín Gorbeña (an engineer). The spectacular Art Nouveau façade was added later, and is the work of the architect Severino de Achúcarro . A programme of renovation was recently completed with restoration work to the facade, a link to Abando station and improved access for those with mobility problems.
FEVE (Ferrocarriles Españoles de Vía Estrecha, or Spanish Narrow Gauge Railway) is one of 3 companies that operate rail services in Bilbao (RENFE operates from the adjacent Abando train station and Eusko Tren/ Ferrocarril Vasco (ET/FV) from Atxuri station)
It owns the longest narrow gauge line in Europe, which spans 1,200 kilometres. The company's railways are located in northern Spain and the two main routes link Bilbao with Santander(2.5hours) and Bilbao with León (7 hours).
FEVE also operate El Transcantabrico. This is a De-Luxe rail experience- Eight days and seven nights travelling the 650 kilometre/400 mile Northern coastal line. It has been operating since 1983, offering the choice of travelling in style from León to Santiago de Compostela or from San Sebastián to Santiago de Compostela.
These are the same railway lines that the old coal trains of the historic La Robla Railway, transported coal from León to Biscay.
I really like the sound of this-but it's way out of my price range (2,600 - 3.500 Euros per person)
Click here for a peep at El Transcantabrico
FEVE also operate normal regional services (in sections) from Ferrol (in Galicia) to Hendaya (in the French Basque region)
Walking to the left side of the Church of San Nicholas, we pass along a narrow street- looking ahead there is a strange looking construction raised above the buildings, I was quite curious to find out what this was - it seemed as if it would have been more at home in a post World War 2 Eastern European country
Further along La Esperanza street, is the entrance to the Begoña elevator. This was constructed in 1949 by the architect Rafael Frontan, as a means of easier access from the lower streets of the Casco Viejo, to the upper district of Begona about 45 metres above..
This is one way to get to the Basilica of the Virgin of Begoña, or Etxebarria Park. (The park is seen as a sign of the city's transformation from the industrial past to a modern centre for leisure. This was the former sight of a metallurgy factory. The Iron and Brick chimney remains as an historical reminder)
2 lifts (elevators) speed you up and down. There is no view during the short ride, but the elevator conductors play music on their radios. I purchased a single ticket for 0.40 Euros (The web site tarriff is a bit out of date) You can also purchase a book of 10 or 30 tickets.
After viewing Bilbao from above its rooftops, taking photos and a couple of short videos, and enjoying a short stroll, I returned to the lift. You ring a bell on the wall to call the lift. Again, I paid my 0.40 Euro for the short drop to street level.
I enjoyed my lift experience, for the novelty value, though I can understand why there has been local objection to the lack of updating/ repair and maintenance work. The lifts are very small, which would probably make wheelchair access difficult.
There are other lifts in Bilbao ; Arangoiti, La Salve, Mallona, Solokoetxe, Zumalakarregi and Ereaga.
Leaving the park, we come to the landmark church of San Nicolas.
This area of the city was once inhabited mainly by the fishermen and their families.
A small hermitage had once stood between the river and this area, and was dedicated to Saint Nicolas de Bari, who is the patron saint of sailors.
A church was later built by Ignacio de Ibero y Erkizia( in 1743) on this present site, which was inaugurated in 1756. Funds had been raised for the building by the people of Bilbao, and it was dedicated to St Nicholas.
I'm afraid that this church was closed at the time of my visit. It is considered to be one of the best examples of the Baroque style in Vizcaya
Apparently the interior is octagonal in shape. The altarpieces and sculptures by Juan de Mena (of Madrid's Spanish Academy) are considered 'must see's'.
The main doorway has a bas relief of the city coat of arms, and a bronze scene including St Nicholas (pic 2)
Mon-Sat, 10:30-13:00 and 17:30-19:30
One of the most attractive sights in this park is the Art Deco bandstand, where concerts can be watched /listened to, especially on Sundays, when the City Band performs. Even if there isn't a concert on, the band stand is worth a peep at. There is an outdoor cafe nearby to enjoy the bandstand and views of the river and bridge.
Apparently, a band stand was constructed here, originally for a visit by Isobel 11, and was renovated and re-fashioned in 1928, by Pedro de Ispizua, an architect. As well as being an attractive building, the acoustics are perfect!
Bilbao parks and gardens open: daily - 24 hours
Bilbao parks and gardens admission: free
Parque de Arenal (Arenal Park) is a pleasant place to stroll through. The many trees give shelter from the sun. Some trees found here include oaks, maples, chestnut, acacia and a lime tree which is the symbol of Bilbao. This was planted in 1816, but was blown down in a storm in 1948, it was re- planted recently.
The park has lots of benches, where several elderly gentlemen were chatting and putting the world to rights. A few were wearing the traditional Basque beret.
Statues and fountains mingle with the trees and shrubs.
There is also an interesting plaque, which indicates the points of interest around the Arenal area (pic 5)
Other things to see in Parque de Arenal can be seen in my next tips......
I came across this interesting statue in the Parque de Arenal. It is a Statue of Balendin Enbeita (1906-1986), who was a well known Basque bertsolari (improviser of sung verses)
Balentine Enbeita Goiria was born on June 20th 1906 in Muxika (Bizkaia), he died at the age of 80, following a farming accident. He came from a family, where the skills of Improvisation had been passed through the generations.
He saw active service at the front line, and was imprisoned in 1936. Under Franco, he returned to Inprovisation, and its promotion. In 1958 and 59 he won a prestigious Improvisation competition.
As well as his storytelling/ singing, Enbeita was skilled at the writen verse - particularly pieces about the Basque region and his village. He published many magazine articles, and a collection of his verses was published in 1974
This is Bilbaos main theatre- I'm afraid that it was closed at the time of my visit, but the exterior is quite attractive, and you can see a bit of the inside through the windows.(pic 4)
Bilbao didn't have a theatre until 1799. This was in a building on Ronda Street, which was built due to a group of Bilbao citizens. In 1816, it was destroyed by a fire. A Temporary theatre was set up to satisfy the theatre lovers.
In 1834, the City Theatre was opened, on the site where the Teatro Arriago stands today. It operated here until 1886, when it was closed, as it had become structurally unsound. This was mainly due to the sieges on the theatre building (and the city of Bilbao) during the Carlist war. It was then demolished. Work had already begun a few years before on a larger building on the same site, which would hold a theatre, with seating for 1,500 . There were shops planned for the lower floor.
The new theatre opened to its first performance on May 31st 1890. (Having taken 5 years and 1 million pesatas to build). Although the Theatre was very classic in design, it was modern for its time, having impressive electrical lighting. It was soon known as The Arriago Theatre, due to its location. The square being named after a local composer - John Crositomo de Arriago.
On 22nd December1914, a fire destroyed the theatre, along with important archive material and insurance documents.
Again, a theatre was constructed on the same site, and again this was larger. The architect was Federico Ugalde. This theatre opened on June 15th 1919. It became well known through Spain for the quality of its productions, with the countries best actors and actresses, musicians and singers appearing. Only the Spanish Civil War prevented the theatre carrying on for a while.
By 1978, under new ownership of the Municipal Council, the building was considered unsafe.
Restoration work finally commenced in 1980. The new look theatre (minus its shops, but with an additional double staircase) opened on December 5th 1986.
Ticket office hours -
Monday 11:30 a 14:00 y 17:00 a 19:00
Tuesday 11:30 a 14:00 y 17:00 a 19:00
Wednesday 11:30 a 14:00 y 17:00 a 20:30
Thursday 11:30 a 14:00 y 17:00 a 20:30
Friday 11:30 a 14:00 y 17:00 a 20:30
Saturday 11:30 a 14:00 y 17:00 a 19:00
Sunday 11:30 a 14:00 y 17:00 a 19:00
* Tickets will be sold until the show starts
Information Office hours
Monday to Friday 11:00 - 14:00 h
Wednesday - Thursday 16:00 - 18:00 h
Passing by the museum, and the Ria de Bilbao is an impressive Bridge -
This is known as -Euskalduna Zubia in Euskara (Basque), Puente Euskalduna (Spanish) and Euskalduna Bridge (English )
Inaugurated in April 1977, the bridge was built by Javier Manterola. It has a sloping and curved design, with 2 lanes each way for vehicles and a covered pedestrian lane and bicycle lane (pic 3)
At the opposite end of the bridge is the neighbourhood of Deusto, where the University, and student life is to be found. Apparently this area developed separately from Bilbao, and has a 'different feel'. It is sometimes called 'The Republic of Deusto' because of this.
Looking from the bridge over the Maritime museum, you'll see a red crane (pic 3) This is known as 'La Carola' and is one of the few remaining structures from the old shipyard. It was constructed in 1954 by Talleres Erandio, and was used in the construction of big ships.
The name comes from a pretty girl who used to pass by the shipyard daily, (either across the old Puente de Duestu or on a ship called "La Misericordia") and cause the shipbuilders to stop their work, to watch her.
To the right of Puente Euskalduna (if facing Duesto) is the Puente de Duesto, which until fairly recently used to rise to enable boats to pass below.
Leaving San Mames Stadium, It isn't long before we reach the banks of the Ria de Bilbao, and the area that used to be home to the Euskalduna Shipyard, where the Astilleros Euskalduna (Basque Country shipbuilders) worked. It closed in the 1980s.
In the Basque language, the Basque Country is known as Euskadi or Euskal Herria (Land of the Basque Speakers)
The Maritime Museum is to be found here now.
Although I didn't intend looking around the museum (Hopefully I'll come back to Bilbao one day soon, to 'do the museums') there was a bit to see outside, including some restored boats in the dry docks and anchors etc.
For those who want stop and look around the museum-
Museo Marítimo Ría de Bilbao - Closed Mondays
Winter (16 December–Easter):
Tuesday to Friday and Sunday: 10:00-18:30h
Summer (Easter–15 December):
Tuesday to Sunday: 10:00-20:00h
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