Top Historic Sights in Bilbao, Spain

Explore the historic highlights of Bilbao

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is a museum of modern and contemporary art designed by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry. The museum was inaugurated in 1997 by King Juan Carlos I of Spain, with an exhibition of 250 contemporary works of art. Built alongside the Nervion River, which runs through the city of Bilbao to the Cantabrian Sea, it is one of several museums belonging to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and f ...
Founded: 1997 | Location: Bilbao, Spain

Teatro Arriaga

Teatro Arriaga is an opera house in Bilbao. It was built in Neo-baroque style by architect Joaquín Rucoba in 1890, the same architect that built the city hall. It is named after Juan Crisóstomo de Arriaga, known in his time as the 'Spanish Mozart'. The theatre was rebuilt in 1985 after severe flooding destroyed it in August 1983.
Founded: 1890 | Location: Bilbao, Spain

Casco Viejo

Las Siete Calles or Casco Viejo are different names for the medieval neighbourhood of Bilbao. The names mean Seven Streets or Old Town respectively and it used to be the walled part of the town until the end of the 19th century. The name come from the oldest part of the neighbourhood which included exactly 7 streets and some much more narrow alleys connecting them, called cantons. The old quarter is an area of incr ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Bilbao, Spain

Plaza Nueva

The Plaza Nueva of Bilbao is a monumental square of Neoclassical style built in 1821. The square is enclosed by arcaded buildings and accessed by arches known as cuevas (caves). The main building was the site of the Biscay government, until a new palace was built in 1890. The place is now the site of Euskaltzaindia, the Basque language Royal Academy. The arches host many traditional taverns and restaurants, so ...
Founded: 1821 | Location: Bilbao, Spain

Church of San Nicolás

The church of San Nicolás de Bari enjoys a privileged location in the centre of Bilbao. This lovely church was designed by the Basque architect Ignacio Ibero, and was built between 1743 and 1756. The church is in mid-Baroque style with an octagonal floor plan. Inside you can see some excellent altarpieces and sculptures, also Baroque, by artist Juan de Mena.
Founded: 1743-1756 | Location: Bilbao, Spain

Bilbao Cathedral

Santiago Cathedral of Bilbao was originally built during the 14th-15th centuries as Bilbao"s main parish church, and was only declared cathedral in 1950 when the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bilbao was officially created. Its origins probably date to well before the foundation of the city in 1300, when Bilbao was little more than a small enclave of fishermen. The church is consecrated in honor of the apostle Saint Jame ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Bilbao, Spain

Bilbao City Hall

The City Hall is located on the right bank of the Estuary of Bilbao across the Puente del Ayuntamiento bascule bridge that links it to the central Abando district. The building was built in 1892 by Joaquín Rucoba, on the former site of a convent in the district of Uribarri. It was built in Baroque style. One of the highlights of the building is the Arab Hall, a richly decorated hall in the Neo-Mudéjar style that ...
Founded: 1892 | Location: Bilbao, Spain

Church of Saint Anthony the Great

The Church of San Antón is dedicated to Anthony the Great. It is featured, along with the San Antón Bridge, in the city"s coat of arms. The estuary of Bilbao flows next to it. The church was built at the end of the 15th century on a plot where there had been a years a warehouse for three hundred years.  In 1300 Diego López de Haro gave the municipal charter. The river and the plot were incorporated to the new ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Bilbao, Spain

Bilbao Fine Arts Museum

The Bilbao Fine Arts Museum is the second largest and most visited museum in the Basque Country, after the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum and one of the richest Spanish museums outside Madrid. It houses a valuable and quite comprehensive collection of Basque, Spanish and European art from the Middle Ages to contemporary, including paintings by old masters like El Greco, Cranach, Murillo, Goya, Van Dyck, Ruisdael and Bellotto, t ...
Founded: 1908 | Location: Bilbao, Spain

Basilica of Begoña

The Basilica of Begoña started life in the 16th century, designed by Sancho Martínez de Arego. It has three naves, to which the addition of vaults was completed in the 17th century in construction work that took a century, having started in 1511. During the time of this work, the Gothic style began to show Renaissance influence, and the arched mid-16th century main entrance reflects the transitional style of th ...
Founded: 1511 | Location: Bilbao, Spain

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Gruyères Castle

The Castle of Gruyères is one of the most famous in Switzerland. It was built between 1270 and 1282, following the typical square plan of the fortifications in Savoy. It was the property of the Counts of Gruyères until the bankruptcy of the Count Michel in 1554. His creditors the cantons of Fribourg and Bern shared his earldom. From 1555 to 1798 the castle became residence to the bailiffs and then to the prefects sent by Fribourg.

In 1849 the castle was sold to the Bovy and Balland families, who used the castle as their summer residency and restored it. The castle was then bought back by the canton of Fribourg in 1938, made into a museum and opened to the public. Since 1993, a foundation ensures the conservation as well as the highlighting of the building and the art collection.

The castle is the home of three capes of the Order of the Golden Fleece. They were part of the war booty captured by the Swiss Confederates (which included troops from Gruyères) at the Battle of Morat against Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy in 1476. As Charles the Bold was celebrating the anniversary of his father's death, one of the capes is a black velvet sacerdotal vestment with Philip the Good's emblem sewn into it.

A collection of landscapes by 19th century artists Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Barthélemy Menn and others are on display in the castle.