Bilbao: Promising future.. also in Shangai

16 Apr 2008

There was not too long ago when the city of Bilbao, part of the beautiful Basque County and situated in the north of Spain, started going through a major transformation, in which it is now catching significant attention and it is already on its way to becoming one of the most notorious cities in all of Spain.

The inauguration of the Guggenheim Museum in 1997, such an extraordinary and innovative work by the Canadian architect Frank O. Gehry, definitely gave a completely new and much more modern face to Bilbao, making the city to stand out among very important and well known cities in the world such as New York, Venice, Berlin, and Las Vegas, now sharing the same privilege of being home to a Guggenheim Museum.

In Bilbao, the Guggenheim Museum is located at a wonderful square by the River Nervión with lots of greenery. In the front and back parts of the museum, there are two gigantic sculptures; one being a kitten completely covered with natural flowers and the second is the recreation of the eight legged spider called “Mamá.” Other characteristics that give a very special touch to the area are the bridges de La Salve, that offers quite a beautiful light show itself that can be seen at night, and the bridge Zubi-Zuri, designated for pedestrians only, features a very modern design of iron cables painted in white, known as the white arched bridge and it also displays a floor with glass details; the bridge is also illuminated at night.

Although the Guggenheim Museum marks a period of a “before and after” in the city and plays a big role in the “effort of the revitalization” of the city, that is not the only reason why Bilbao has been catching a lot of attention lately. There have also been many other urban transformations, among them the new Airport, the Metro System, the Tramway, and the restoration of the whole margin of the river, which are already becoming internationally known, as well as the Palacio Euskalduna, that resembles a ship, La Torre de la Diputación and Las Torres de Isozaki, and there are still many more transformations in store for the very near future.

Although many transformations have been and will keep taking place in Bilbao, it does not mean in any way that the city is loosing its roots and identity. On the contrary, its roots and identity are becoming stronger and richer by the day. With so much to do and see in Bilbao, one just can’t get enough of it. Walking through the margin of the river, one can get the best of “both worlds,” the old (commonly known as “Casco Viejo”) and the new, beautifully contrasting the antique and the contemporary. The City Hall (Ayuntamiento), inspired by the “Opera de Paris,” and the University of Deusto lay by the margin of the river, and among with extraordinary Churches, the Cathedral, the Basilica of Begoña, Palaces, Theatres, Museums, and the Abando and the Atxuri train stations, represent historical symbols that can be seen throughout the city of Bilbao. Bilbao also offers a breathtaking view from the Monte Artxanda besides many public squares where people can relax and children can play. For those who are fans of gastronomy and the night life, there are plenty of restaurants, bars, pubs and night clubs to choose from. Typical Spanish food consists mainly of seafood and the very popular “tapas” and pintxos.”

Spanish is the official language spoken in Bilbao. On a much happier note, Bilbao has been home to many foreign students who wish to learn Spanish and experience the Spanish way of life. The number of foreign students has been increasing greatly and they always claim to be very happy for choosing Bilbao as their new home for periods that can last from a few weeks to months.

No wonder why Bilbao has been calling so much attention of visitors as well as countries all over the world. The latest and greatest news is that Bilbao is in its way to go to Expo Shangai 2010 that has as a theme “Better city, better life,” and in which it will take place in the district of Pudong along the river Huangpu starting May 1st until October 31st of 2010. Bilbao has been elected “as a model of urban renovation and thanks to the extraordinary transformation experimented in the city in the last 25 years.”

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