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.
I'd picked up a Bilbao city map at Santander Airport, which also had 3 guided walks -The Old Quarter (Casco Viejo), The Ensanche of Bilbao (The new district) and Abando (which takes in the Guggenheim).
Bilbao is quite an easy city to get around on foot (although there is an excellent transport network with its metro/ trams/trains and buses).
I was pleasantly surprised that the city had so many pleasant parks, and a riverside walk.
I decided to explore more of the city, following the guided walks. I didn't stick to the routes (as I kept getting sidetracked) but spent an interesting few hours seeing some of Bilbaos hidden gems.
So, come along with me on my walk around Bilbao..........my tips are mainly in time order- some maybe should be 'off the beaten track', but I've included them in my Things to do tips, because they follow on
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.
Near the beginning of this walk we came upon the landmark statue of Sagrada Corazon (Sacred Heart) This is the Neo-Gothic church of The Sacred Heart, built by Jose Maria Basterra in 1891, for the Jesuit order. Quite a large terracotta building.
Again, I'm afraid that this church was closed at the time of my visit, which was a shame as I understand that it has an unusual altar.
So we'll wander back onto Gran Via...
If you have more than a couple of days, maybe you would like to make a short trip around the Vizcaya province. Along the coast north of Bilbao you will find many little picturesque villages with green scenary and little sandy beaches.
Some places to visit:
- Gernika (and the Urdaibai Natural Reserve)
To get there by car, take the road to the airport and follow towards Bermeo. Before Bermeo, U will find a sign for Bakio. From there you can visit the rest.
There are also buses going to all those places.
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
San Mames is home to Athletic Club Bilbao, and is known as 'The Cathedral of Football'
During my visit it became 'The Cathedral of Music', as Bruce Springsteen and The E- Street Band played their first concert of the Spanish leg of their 'Working on a Dream' Tour here.
This was my main reason for starting here, as I needed to buy a ticket for that evenings concert.
My first sighting of this old stadium was from the bus, as San Mames is next to the bus terminus.
San Mames is the oldest Stadium in Spain, being built in 1913. It was built near to the old Church of San Mames, or Saint Mammes. Apparently Mammes was a Christian, who was thrown to the lions in Roman times. For some reason, the lions refused to eat him, and he was later made a Saint!
AC Bilbao are nicknamed 'The Lions of San Mames'
The stadium has undergone renovations during the years, but there are now plans underway for a new stadium. When it is complete this stadium will be demolished.
It did remind me a bit of the English stadiums during the 1970's, particularly as there appeared to be very few toilets for females. (3 toilets and 5 washbasins, with no mirror! in the one I visited)
There is a small exhibition/museum of the football club. Entrance at Gates 26/27
I didn't visit the museum, but did purchase a small gift from the souvenir stall at the ticket desk. There are some Black and White photos of past players outside the museum, and in the stadium. There's also a small cafe outside the museum.
From the terrace outside the museum, you'll spot groups of friends posing for photos under the club flag.
Museum/ Trophy Room 6 Euros Adults Under 14's 4 Euros. Club Members and supporters 3 Euros
TIMETABLE (Museum and Tours) From November to February:
From Tuesdays to Sundays: from 10:00 to 14:00 and from 16:00 to 18:30.
Tours into San Mames: 10:30, 11:30; 12:30, 13:15, 16:30, 17:15 and 18:00.
From March to October:
From Tuesdays to Sundays: from 10:00 to 14:00 and from 16:00 to 19:00.
Tours into San Mames: 10:30, 11:30, 12:30, 13:15, 16:30, 17:30 and 18:15.
On Sundays and match days closed in the afternoon.
Telephone: 94 441 39 54
Inside the stadium there were bars serving beer, spirits, Mineral water and boccadilloes with various fillings. Not cheap (as to be expected!)
There are some pleasant small bars surrounding the stadium. I particularly enjoyed Bar Flower and Stadium (tips on my restaurant pages soon)
So, I've bought my ticket, heard Springsteen do his sound check -There's a few more hours 'til the concert starts, so lets head off and see Bilbao.....
It is now possible to walk along the river from the Casco Viejo (Arriaga Bridge) to the River Museum at the Euskalduna.
One might wish to walk up one side, cross the new Euskalduna Bridge and back along the other.
Alternatively you could cheat one way and get the metro from Casco Viejo or Abando to Euskalduna.
The recently completed riverside path on the west side of the river, taking you past the Guggenheim is delightful.
The area of Abandoibarra, near the "white bridge" is being redeveloped with imposing twin towers.
We've reached the end of Gran Via now, and are in the Plaza Circular-This is also known as Plaza Espana-(but not by the Basque population)!
In the centre of this square is a statue-This is Don Diego López de Haro, Lord of Vizcaya and the man who founded Bilbao in 1300.
Surrounding the square are many imposing buildings, housing banks and financial institutions
The modern glass fronted building in my pictures is the Banco de Bilbao y Vizcaya, which was reflecting the late afternoon sun during my visit. I'm not entirely sure if this building 'fits into' the Plaza. It's a mish-mash of the old and new-19th century buildings and the modern Banco and a fosterito - the glass snail shaped tube to the metro designed by Sir Norman Fletcher(see my Plaza Moyua tip for more info)
Just off the square is Abando-one of Bilbaos main train stations-worth a look for the impressive stained glass window that depicts Bilbaos workers and life.
From Plaza Circular, you can head along Navarra street, which leads to Casco Viejo (The Old Quarter)
This is the street that we'll follow for a short while.....
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.
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!
It is situated in the midle of the "Gran Via" , in the center of the city, 10 minutes walking from the Guggenheim, 15 from the Abando Train Station, and 25 from the old town.
There are some beautiful buildings like the Civil Govermment (the building of the photo), Carlton Hotel...
Here arrive/leave the bus from/to airport.
In the square of Arbieto between The Deputation and Library buildings is this bronze sculpture. It is a piece known as 'The Passer By' and was created by José Ramón Gómez Nazabal,who as well as being a sculptor is a teacher and novelist. He wrote "Crónica sentimental de Bilbao"
The figure is wearing a raincoat and carries an umbrella and is seen to have an open back. The artist has signed his work on the coat tails(pic 3) and dated it '97.
Bilbao has lots of interesting sculptures, which you'll come across while exploring the city.
For people who are not in Bilbao just for the Guggenheim, and want to really squeeze all you can from your transport ticket, here's an interesting outing, with a very typical Bilbao meal thrown in.
Take the No 58 bus, that starts in the old town, Casco Viejo and you can also catch it in the PLaza Circular (the round one, adjoining the main train station) and sit back at let it take you through the non touristic areas of Bilbao. Don't panic when it seems to leave town and starts climbing, as your aim is to get to nearly the top of the mountain, still within city limits. Tell the driver you want to get off at Monte COBETAS, which is when the bus is going along this narrow road with a precipice on the left. There is a park on the right and a big building which says Restaurante Cobetas.
Get off and enjoy the spectacular view over Bilbao and Mt Artxanda: you are much higher than on the other side. You can ramble about in the park, and along mountain paths.
Restaurant is what is called a Cervecera (Beer House) in Bilbao, which means it the standard cervecera food: self service: roast chicken and beer in jugs and you can also have salad, chips, fried green peppers, roast red peppers, spanish omelette, chorizo and morcilla. This one also has a la carte like steaks, fish, etc. Huge seating area indoor and outdoor. These places are to be found all over Bizkaia but nowhere else (not even in neighbouring Guipuzkoa or Alava). Many open only in the summer but this one is open all year round (in winter at weekends and on holidays). They are extremely popular in summer throughout the day and night for a reasonable, no-nonsense meal. Remember locals will calculate half chicken per person!
View, walk and lunch all in one, and then catch the bus back to town. Frequency of buses is 15 mins.
The ancient district has some pedestrian streets with old-style buildings; the heart of this district is this square with soportales, where is situated the Basque Language Academy.
El Casco Viejo tiene algunas calles peatonales con edificios de estilo antiguo; el corazón de esta zona es esta plaza porticada, en donde se encuentra la Academia de la Lengua Vasca.
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