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The city

  • Bilbao is a city with a great deal of personality, which has managed to preserve its traditions whilst opening its doors to the future.

    The Estuary of Bilbao, an active and silent witness of the town’s history, connects the Old Town, which is the medieval centre of old Bilbao, to the cutting-edge architecture of Isozaki Atea and its greatest exponent, the Guggenheim Museum, which is at the forefront of the City’s impressive transformation.


    Nowadays, Bilbao is a destination with a wide range of culture, gastronomy and leisure on offer.

    Bilbao is a Spanish municipality situated in the north of the country and a city in the municipality, which is capital of the province and historic territory of Bizkaia (Biscay) in the autonomous region of the Basque Country. The city of Bilbao is the capital and only city in the municipality, and with the 2011 census indicating the presence of 352,700 inhabitants it is the more populated urban area in the autonomous community. It is the centre of Greater Bilbao, a conurbation of over 900,000 inhabitants, which stretches along the Estuary of Bilbao (also known as the Nervion).


    Since its foundation at the start of the 14th century, it has been a trading community benefiting from a certain importance on the Cantabrian coast thanks to privileges granted by the Crown of Castile, which enabled the development of a large port activity. This was primarily based on the exportation of wool from Castile, and in part from iron extracted from Biscayan quarries. It experienced heavy industrialisation throughout the 19th century and at the start of the 20th century, which transformed it into the epicentre of Spain’s second most industrialised region, after Barcelona.


    This was accompanied by an extraordinary demographic and urban explosion, which was the origin of the annexation of several adjacent municipalities. It is now a thriving city of services, which is undergoing a process of aesthetic, social and economic revival, led by the symbolic Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.


    On 19 May 2010, the city of Bilbao was recognised with the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize, awarded by the city-state of Singapore, in collaboration with the Swedish Nobel Academy. Considered the Nobel prize for urban planning, it was awarded on 29 June 2010. On 7 January 2013, the city’s mayor, Iñaki Azkuna, received the World Mayor Prize for 2012, which is awarded by the British foundation The City Mayors Foundation every two years, in recognition of the urban transformation experienced by the Basque city since the 1990s.

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