Friday, March 28, 2008



The first time we were in Bilbao was in 1976, during an incredible bus trip that left some quite lousy pictures, which may be seen here. Bilbao, Spain's biggest port and sixth largest city, was then starting to enter a deep depression when its gruesome shipyards, steelworks and docks struggled to face competition in a new world where heavy industry had lost its prominence. In 1976, the heavily industrialised Bilbao was far from being interesting in tourist terms. Thirty years later the city is barely recognizable. The dawn of a new era was of course the spectacular Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Museum which opened in 1997. But the new urban projects, designed to regenerate degraded city areas, the state-of-the-art metro system by Norman Foster, the futuristic airport terminal by Santiago Calatrava, a wealth of museums, interesting new buildings and many excellent restaurants serving traditional Basque cuisine have combined to give Bilbao a brilliant new image.

"SHERATON - The design of the Mexican architect Ricardo Leggorreta, inspired by the work of sculptor Eduardo Chillida, made the Sheraton Bilbao a true work of art"

"LOBBY - One of the hotel’s most striking features is its enormous lobby, with a glass structure that makes it practically diaphanous. The lobby rises to a height of about forty metres, all the way up to the ceiling of the hotel’s 10th floor"

"LIFTS - The true splendour of the hotel’s lobby is revealed by the panoramic glass lifts"

"MODELS - The Hotel has an impressive collection of Spanish ship models, preserving the history of Bilbao as an important port"

"CLUB LOUNGE - The building is a great piece of modern architecture"

"VIEWS FROM ROOM 706 - Sunrise, Parque Doña Casilda (named after Casilda Iturrízar, who donated the terrains) and the Euskalduna"

"FINE ARTS MUSEUM - The museum was re-inaugurated in November 2001, but the collection originated with the merger of the collections from the first Museum of Fine Arts, inaugurated in 1914, and the Museum of Modern Art in 1924"

"ZUBIZURI BRIDGE - The tied arch footbridge across the Nervion River by Santiago Calatrava is another of the modern Bilbao's landmarks"


"THE EUSKALDUNA Conference Centre and Concert Hall was designed by architects Federico Soriano and Dolores Palacios on the site of the former Euskalduna Shipyard. It represents the last ship built in the shipyard and was inaugurated on Febuary 19th 1999. It's one of the flagships of the new Bilbao of the 21st century"



Anonymous said...

Bilbao was a must after Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim was built. So, when I managed to take a couple of days off in October 2006, it was an obvious choice. This is the first of four intended posts on Bilbao and will show some of the new buildings, namely the Sheraton Hotel and the Euskalduna - the new Conference Centre and Concert Hall… Hope you enjoy!
Thanks for your comments. I'll try to reply to your comments on last post and visit your blogs this weekend!

Dalicia said...

i like the design of the hotel's interior :) who would have thought a simple buidling would have modern interior?

lyliane six said...

Je n'aime pas beaucoup des bâtiments carrés et modernes, on dirait Berlin.
Mais heureusement tous les goûts sont dans la nature!
Que de changements en 30 ans, surtour pour les voitures, vous 2 êtes bien conservés!bon week end.

Lakshmi said...

wow..I loved the last picture

virtual nexus said...

Love the geometric architecture and the final one of the Dali sculpture.

indicaspecies said...

It was good to check out the lovely 30 year old pictures as well.

Thank you for sharing so much with us Gil. Glad to have caught up with all your interesting posts. :)

Chris said...

Ola, Gil! As usual, I appreciate your giving us a tour of such a nice city! Thanks for sharing I(even if it makes me jealous!).

I am trying to get my husband to see why I need to take a transatlantic cruise that stops in the Azores, Cartagena and Barcelona. Got any Azores stuff?

If you get a chance to stop by my blog Sat, I'll have a great story to share.

Anonymous said...

Where did my comment vanish?
I was again thanking you for a great trip with your photos in a new town.

I am waiting eagerly our journey to Istanbul and Yalta after four weeks.

Snow is gone before that, I promise
send at least two photos without snow
in April :)

Have a good weekend!

Azer Mantessa said...

Bilbao, Spain ... where great scouse are from :-)

without question, bilbao does look a bit modern. thanks to norman foster.

i'm astounded by the sheraton design ... yes, the lobby is fantastically high. i can't help but admiring the work of eduardo chillida and yes, splendid lifts too.

to end up with dali - the dance is really something. one cant resist watching the flamboyant spanish dancing.

yes bilbao, spain ... i can feel the presence of your 'spanish eyes' ... beautiful :-)

Jo's-D-Eyes said...

Hello Gil,
OK we arrived in Bilbao now, I see the CITY and buildings but to be honest: what I see here is not really my style of vacation, all the big cities do not really matter to me, but I am interested to your next photo's I might become more interested....

We went on travelling for a long weekend in the snow, to luxemburg, I made a big collage with 48 different sky's, come and look,

Have a good weekend ! greetings from JoAnn

RuneE said...

I have been to a number of places in Spain (most of them "tourist-traps" of course), but never to Bilbao. Thanks to you, I now feel that a trip to Bilbao ought to be on the short-list for future travels.

Thank you for pleasant comments!

Janet said...

What a transformation! I am wondering though,how a city with a depressed economy, found the funds to do all this. How did they get companies to invest? Was it the Guggenheim Museum that was the catalyst?

noushy syah said...

The glass lift remind me of the lift in KLIA (Msia airport) but this architecture is so outstanding - the modern hotel interior's, but simple from outside!!

A quick visit to Bilbao definitely worth to see for a change style of atmosphere.

Thanks Gil.Have a gr8 weekend and appreciate your comment in both of my blogs.Take care.

alicesg said...

Nice photos and interesting place to be in. Sorry for not visiting but I am now back from my vacation in South Korea. Have a nice weekend. :)

Kunterbunt said...

Bilbao seems to be a very modern town with so many new architectoral elements.

Nikon said...

Great photos, Gil. It looks like a really nice place to walk around & take in the fantastic architecture.
The hotel is amazing, I really like the design.
I like the bridge, too - looks like the one in Torino!

dot said...

What a nice bunch of pictures! The one I like best is the bridge and I really really like your header picture.

isa said...

Eskalduna is very impressive - even more so knowing what it represents...
Happy weekend!

Anonymous said...

Oh how I would love to see that lobby! It must be overwhelming. ~ Lynn

Indrani said...

I feel forced to pause over the pics you post. Beautiful all of them. Thanks for sharing.

Rita A said...

Greetings from Finland!

The pictures of the hotel lobby are breathtaking, almost scary (gulp). I feel dizzy. Great pictures!

lv2scpbk said...

Those photos looking down are interesting shots.

Lilli & Nevada said...

Well you sure make my little old motel look sick for sure.LOL but I do love the structure and architect. I don't know what you do but you sure do travel to some beautiful places.
Thanks for always taking the time to visit me on my blog.

Dick said...

Amazing architecture, very beautiful sculpture. Thanks for your weekly visit, have a nice week.

Olivier said...

Superbe Bilbao, surtout toutes ces statues, un vrai bonheur pour les yeux

Peter said...

Loved to see the 1976 pictures (and Guida!!)!!! Must have been a fantastic trip, probably in less top class hotels!

Bilbao would certianly be worth a new visit - last time some 15 years ago! The hotel looks very nice, referring more particularly to the inside of it! ... and much more to come, including the Guggenheim!

Peter said...

... and regarding your comments on my blog about size of photos: I was also afraid of changing format, but finally it's very easy. I'm a clear amateur in these matters, but managed in a few minutes. If you wish some advice, contact me via emal!

leo said...

my internet service is up and running again, so i'm catching up on your post. I love buildings and your pictures here are simply stunning. great job.

Lori said...

What amazing architecture. I always want to visit every place you show us! That hotel is especially cool!

Ash said...

Amazing architecture and cool colors!

Dan said...

The transformation of the city is incredible. This is similar to what happened to Pittsburg Pennsylvania after the steel industry collapsed. They made an amazing turnaround after several difficult years.

Your pictures are incredible by the way. Fantastic job! Thanks for sharing these and your informative narrative.

Tinsie said...

Very interesting, as usual. I love the hotel building!

Anonymous said...

The Sheraton building is incredible!

Merci. C’est toute une autre ville trente ans après…


That Dali sculpture was also one of my favourite street sculptures in Bilbao; and there are several… ;)

Thanks! Glad you liked the 30 year old pictures; I feel so much older seeing them… ;))

Azores, you may see some seventies lousy pics here; Cartagena (Old Town) is beautiful and Barcelona almost as beautiful as Lisbon… ;))

Istanbul is fantastic, provided you don’t get a snow storm… ;)) and Yalta must be an interesting spot!

Azer Mantessa,
Sir Norman is only responsible for the metro system; Gehry’s Guggenheim and Calatrava, as well as many others are responsible for the incredible re-birth of the city…
Chillida and Dali are great favourites!!

Big city Bilbao? It has less inhabitants that Amsterdam… ;))
Weekend snow in… Luxemburg? You must be kidding… ;)))

There are many tourist-traps everywhere, but Bilbao does not exactly fit in the category… ;))

Rambling Round,
The Guggen was actually the catalyst!

Noushy Syah,
Thanks. That building is incredible!

Alice SG,
Never been to South Korea…

Old Town Bilbao came next… ;))

The hotel is amazing and Calatrava’s bridge is a great favourite, notwithstanding some criticism… ;)

Thanks! But Blogger just «swallowed» the seventh moai of the Ahu-Akivi on my header… ;)

Thanks! Euskalduna is an incredible building!

And the lobby at the Sheraton is quite impressive!


Thanks for the comment; first time here I believe!
I think I took the picture from the seventh floor, but the lobby goes up to the tenth… ;)

Lilli & Nevada,
Thanks! Maybe one day I’ll manage to pass by your motel, and then you’ll see some beautiful pictures… ;))


Merci. Maintenant je regrette de n’avoir pas pris plus de photos des statues au Parc auprès du fleuve… ;)

Thanks. Thirty two years ago we looked quite younger… ;)
Bilbao definitely deserves another visit!

Thanks for dropping by, despite the difficulties with the internet service!

Thanks. I take it as a compliment!


Thanks! Amazing, I’ve never dropped my attention on Pittsburgh, PA! Maybe I should… ;)

Thanks! Everybody seems to be impressed with that incredible Sheraton building!

Janet said...

The modern looks as good as the ancient. Where to next?

Anonymous said...

Rambling Round,
Up the hills (still in Bilbao), and then the famous new landmark, to close...

Ming the Merciless said...

The Sheraton Hotel is such an interesting place. I love the open spaces and the saturation of colors.

We are supposed to have a new subway/PATH train station at the former World Trade Center site. The architecture of the aboveground shell is supposed to look somewhat like the Zubizuri Bridge. But I think the city ran out of money so we may not have that structure. :-(

Anonymous said...

I share your interest on the open spaces and colour saturation. The Sheraton is amazing!
Would love to see something impressive at Ground Zero, but I'm always concerned to get there...