Bilbao (Basque: Bilbo) is the capital of the province of Biscay and the largest city of the Basque Country. The population of the city is 354.860 (as 2009), while the entire population of its metropolitan area, known as Greater Bilbao, is 1.152.658 (as 2009), a conurbation that extends through the Estuary of Bilbao or Nervión river. Greater Bilbao is the fifth largest metropolitan area in Spain after those of Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Seville.
The city is located in the province of Biscay, in the north both of the country and the autonomous community. This community is bordered by Cantabria (west), Navarre (east), Castile and León and La Rioja (south). At north is located the Bay of Biscay and at north-east is located France. The conurbation of Bilbao is surrounded by two mountain ranges which do not overpass 400 meters. The main municipalities close to Bilbao are Sondika, Zamudio, Basauri and Barakaldo.
Since its foundation, early 14th century, Bilbao has been a commercial enclave with vital importance in Green Spain because of its portuary activity, that is mainy founded on the exportation of iron extracted on the several quarries located in Biscay. Through the 19th century and early on the 20th century the city experimented a strong industrialisation that turned the city into the second most industrialised city of Spain, only behind Barcelona.. Along with this industrialisation, an extraordinary demographic and urbanistic explosion originated the annexation of several neighboring municipalities. Currently, it is a strong services city that is on the middle of a estetic, social and economical revitalization leaded by the simbolical Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.
- 1 Toponym
- 2 History
- 3 Geography
- 4 Demography
- 5 Politics and Public Administration
- 6 Economy
- 7 Urbanism
- 8 Monumental architecture
- 9 References
The official name of the municipality is Bilbao, both in Spanish and Basque. However, the Royal Academy of the Basque language recommended, on an official city council request, that the official toponym for the city in Basque be Bilbo. This last one has been used on several documentation and literary works written in Basque. However, Bilbao appears written in Basque just once, on Los refranes de Garibay, from the 16th century.
A consense about the origin of the name does not currently exist. The engineer Evaristo de Churruca y Brunet assures that is a Basque tradition to name places in reference to their location; so Bilbao would be the mix of the Basque words Bil-Ibaia-Bao (meaning river and inlet). In the same way, the historian José Tusell Gómez argues that the name is an evolution of bello vado (meaning "beautiful way out"). The writter Esteban Calle Iturrino affirmed that the name derivated from two elder towns once located at each side of the river. The first one, located where now is Casco Viejo, named Billa that in Basque means pile. The second town would have been located where currently is Bilbo Zarra and with the name of vaho (vapor, mist). With the union of this words, the toponym would result, that on older times was used in the written from as Bilvao and Biluao, as can be seen on its municipal charter and posterior transcription of it.
Bilbao was founded as a village by Don Diego Lopez de Haro V, Lord of Biscay, on 15 June 1300 on the opposite river bank of an existing fishing settlement (now known as Bilbao la Vieja or Bilbo Zaharra, "Old Bilbao").
Prior to formal establishment as a township, a village and port called "Bilbao" (the name designated in the founding village charter of 1300) is believed to have been located near an ancient wall (circa XII century) recently discovered by the "San Anton" Bridge. Other evidence suggests that first settlements in Bilbao came earlier near the "Malmasin" promontory.
The name of the city has unclear origins, some think it may come from "bel vado", ancient Spanish for "good river crossing" while others proclaim it stems from Basque "bi albo" meaning "two river banks".
Don Diego gave the city rights and privileges along with land for growth. At first there were only three streets: Somera ("Upper"), Artekale ("middle street") and Tendería ("Shopkeeper's"), following the pattern of three parallel streets found in other Basque towns, and the Santiago church, surrounded by a city wall. Bilbao was in the northern branch of the Way of Saint James, thus the name of Santiago (Saint James') church.
The city grew slowly but steadily, its area is now known as the "Seven streets", after the new parallel developments. The privileges conceded by the successive Lords of Biscay were resented, sometimes violently, by other chartered villas like Portugalete and by the unchartered villages. In the 15th century wars between noble families disrupted the city, which had reached a population of almost 3000.
Three floods and a fire shook the city, and Santiago Church was almost totally destroyed. But once again the city recovered and it grew beyond the wall.
In 1602 Bilbao was made capital city of Biscay, replacing the former capital Bermeo. The following centuries saw a constant increase of the city's wealth, especially after the discovery of extensive iron resources in the surrounding hills. At the end of the 17th century, Bilbao overcame the economical crises that affected Spain thanks to the iron ore and the commerce with England and the Netherlands. During the 18th century the city continued to grow and almost exhausted its small space.
The 19th century's industrial revolution was crucial for Bilbao, with the developing of strong mining, steel and shipbuilding industries. At the beginning of the 20th century Bilbao was the wealthiest city of Spain, where the main banks (BBVA) and insurance companies were established.
Bilbao was besieged four times by the Carlists during the Carlist Wars, but due to the defenders (the regular Spanish army and local Liberal volunteers), it was never conquered, as is recorded in the city's title ("undefeated").
In 1886 the University of Deusto was established by the Company of Jesus and a major plan for the city was announced after the village of Abando was annexed. The Alzola, Achúcarro and Hoffmeyer "Ensanche" (extension) project of 1876 almost doubled the city's area and was developed during the following decades, as it happened in other cities like Barcelona at that time.
In 1925, the village of Deusto was annexed and several other parts of the city were developed including Basurto and Begoña.
Bilbao sided with the Republican Government in the Spanish Civil War and was the capital of the first Basque Autonomous Government led by José Antonio Aguirre. A defensive ring, called "Cinturón de Hierro" (Iron Belt) was built around the city, with heavy artillery and many bunkers linked by kilometres of tunnels. Despite these efforts, on 19 June 1937 Bilbao succumbed to Franco's troops' siege (aided by the betrayal of the engineer Goicoechea, designer of the defensive ring); the bridges were destroyed to stop the enemy, but the city survived relatively intact.
During Franco's dictatorship the city's heavy industries fuelled Spain's economy and thousands of immigrants from central and southern Spain moved to Bilbao, the city and surrounding towns expanded greatly and sometimes chaotically. In an effort to accommodate the influx of immigrants in the city's limited space, the towns in the adjacent Txoriherri valley (Erandio, Derio, Zamudio, Sondika, Lezama) were annexed. This annexation was reversed in 1981 after the transition to democracy.
In 1983 heavy floods struck the city, killing many people in the province and causing great damage to the old part of the city; the old Arriaga Theater was devastated. Since then the "Casco Viejo" (the old district) has been renewed, along with the general trend of renewal seen all around the city.
Regeneration and renewal
The city has recently undergone major urban renewal, in order to move away from the region’s industrial history and instead focus on tourism and services. The developments are centered around the new metro system by Sir Norman Foster (see Metro Bilbao) and, most of all, the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum by Frank Gehry. A new tram line (EuskoTran) was introduced in 2002. The Port of Bilbao, formerly on the river, has been moved and expanded downstream on the Bay of Biscay, opening a great deal of central real estate on the river that has been the site of most of the new building. Other new landmarks include the Santiago Calatrava- designed Zubizuri Bridge and the Euskalduna Palace, a cultural centre, further downstream. The two points are linked by a new riverside passageway opposite University of Deusto, which provides an open green space for the city’s inhabitants to relax.
A major landmark tower, designed by César Pelli, to house the Iberdrola electric company will also be built and there are ambitious plans to regenerate the peninsula on the river known as Zorrozaurre.
In 2010, Bilbao City Hall tops 78 nominations to clinch the inaugural Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize. It was named in recognition of its integrated and holistic approach in urban transformation. Bilbao City Hall has demonstrated that urban regeneration can be a powerful social and economic driver to catalyze change, strengthen the urban fabric, inject vibrancy and improve the quality of life for its citizens. The Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize Laureate will be presented with an award certificate, a gold medallion and a cash prize of S$300,000, sponsored by Keppel Corporation.
Bilbao is located in the northern of the Iberian Peninsula, 14 kilometres away from the Bay of Biscay. The city spans a total of 40,65 km². and at an average elevation of 19 meters above sea level, however vartions between 6 and 32 meters exist. Bilbao is also the center of the comarca of Greater Bilbao.
- Municipalities surrounding Bilbao
|Northwest: Erandio||North: Sondika, Zamudio||Northeast: Zamudio Derio|
|West: Barakaldo||East: Etxebarri|
|Southwest Alonsotegi||South: Arrigorriaga||Southeast: Basauri|
|Climate chart (explanation)|
Bilbao has an oceanic climate, generally mild, with not too extreme temperatures. January average temperature is 9 °C (48 °F) and July average is 21 °C (70 °F). Precipitation is around 1,200 mm (47 in) per year, almost entirely rain, although in winter it snows three days on average. Extreme heat is also common a few days each summer, mainly when strong winds from the south blow through the mountains and temperatures rise because of the foehn wind.
Extreme record observations in Bilbao are 42.2 °C (108.0 °F) maximum (on 13 August 2003) and −8.6 °C (16.5 °F) minimum (on 3 February 1963). The maximum precipitation in a day was 225.6 mm (9 in) in 26 August 1983 when severe flooding was originated by the Nervión River.
|Climate data for Bilbao (1971-2000)|
|Average high °C (°F)||13
|Average low °C (°F)||5
|Precipitation mm (inches)||126
|Avg. snowy days||0.9||1.0||0.4||0.1||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.1||0.7||3.2|
|Source: Bilbao climate chart (from the Astronomical association)|
According to the 2009 census, Bilbao has 354.860 inhabitants; from which 168.019 are male, which represents approximately 47% from the total, and 186.841 are female, approximately 53% of the population.
The first available data of Bilbao's population come from the year 1550 and posteriors.. It is known that in 1530, Biscay had 65.000 inhabitants, amount that could have decrease because of the several plagues that affected Bilbao and other villes of Biscay in 1517, 1530, 1564-68 y 1597-1601. The city experimented a demographic growth starting on 1980.
|Bilbao's population evolution between 1920 and 2009 graphic|
|Graphic created by Wikipedia in accordance to the data given by INE Spain (2009)|
Politics and Public Administration
Bilbao is the capital of the province of Biscay and therefore all the administrative institutions of the province are located in the city. The Autonomous Community of the Basque Country has a provincial delegation on the city. The Foral Deputation of Biscay is also located in the city.
In administrative terms, Bilbao is divided on eight districts; at the same time these districts can be divided into 34 neighborhoods. Originally, Bilbao was the current Casco Viejo (right bank), and some houses and streets on the left bank of the river, where now is located Bilbao La Vieja. The city eventually expanded and formed the current neighborhoods of Begoña, Uribarri, on the 19th Century Abando, Rekalde and Basurto. On the 20th Century, the right bank of the river was the zone of bigger residential expansion, with Begoña and Deusto. The neighborhoods of Otxarkoaga-Txurdinaga were built in the mid-1960's and were named an official district in 1990.
|1||Deusto||(4): Arangoiti, Ibarrekolanda, San Ignacio-Elorrieta and San Pedro de Deusto-La Ribera.||4,95||51.989|
|2||Uribarri||(4): Castaños, Matiko-Ciudad Jardín, Uribarri and Zurbaran-Arabella.||4,19||38.858|
|3||Otxarkoaga-Txurdinaga||(2): Otxarkoaga and Txurdinaga.||3,90||28.871|
|4||Begoña||(3): Begoña, Bolueta and Santutxu.||1,77||43.390|
|5||Ibaiondo||(9): Atxuri, Bilbao La Vieja, Casco Viejo, Iturralde, La Peña, Miribilla, San Adrián, San Francisco, Solokoetxe and Zabala.||9,65||58.064|
|6||Abando||(2): Abando and Indautxu.||2,14||51.624|
|7||Rekalde||(5): Ametzola, Iralabarri, Iturrigorri-Peñascal, Recaldeberri-Larrasquitu and Uretamendi.||6,96||47.476|
|8||Basurto-Zorrotza||(5): Altamira, Basurto, Olabeaga, Masustegui-Monte Caramelo and Zorroza.||7,09||33.666|
Bilbao has been the economic center of the Basque Country since the times of the Consulate, mainly because of the comerce of Castilian products on the city's port, but it was not until the 19th Century when it experimented a big development, mainly based on the exploitation of the iron mines and siderurgy, which promoved the maritimal traffic, the portuary activity and the construction of ships. During those years also made their appearance Banco de Bilbao (Bank of Bilbao), founded on Bilbao in 1857 and Banco de Vizcaya (Bank of Biscay), which is established in 1901, also in Bilbao. Both entities merged in 1988 creating the BBV corporation (Banco Bilbao Vizcaya, Bank of Bilbao-Biscay). BBV merged with Argentaria in 1999, creating the current corporation, BBVA. The savings banks that were established locally, Caja de Ahorros Municipal de Bilbao (Municipal Savings Bank of Bilbao) in 1907, and Caja de Ahorros Provincial de Vizcaya (Provincial Savings Bank of Biscay) in 1921, would merge in 1990 and form Bilbao Bizkaia Kutxa Bilbao Bizkaia Kutxa#BBK. Along, the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Navegation of Bilbao and the Stock Exchange Market of Bilbao, founded in 1890.
- Port of Bilbao
Originally, the port of Bilbao was located where currently is the Arenal, close to the Casco Viejo. The port was located there until the last years of the 19th Century. In 1902 the exterior port was built, in the municipality of Santurtzi that eventually would be expanded and called the "Superpuerto" (Superport) and that would replace the port located in the docks, with the exception of the neighborhood of Zorrotza (where the industrial activity is still working) and leaving the Deusto Channel for recreational purpouses only.
Currently, Bilbao has a fist-order commercial port and is between the five most important ports of Spain. In 2007, it had a traffic of 40 millions tons, being Russia and Brazil the main destinations.
- Minery and siderurgy
The iron is the principal and most abundant raw material that can be found in Biscay and its extraction had been legally protected since 1526. The minery was the primary activity in the ville, and the mineral, of big quality, was exported all across Europe. It was not until the second half of the 19th Century when the siderurgical industry developed, benefited by the resources and communication that the ville offered.
- Stock exchange of Bilbao
Projects to create a stock exchange market in Bilbao began in early 19th Century, even though it would not be created until July 21, 1890 The stock exchange is considered a secondary activity in Bilbao.
- Trade faire
The new installations of the Trade Faire of Bilbao were opened in 2004 and renamed Bilbao Exhibition Centre (BEC) and it is located in the neighborhood of Ansio, in the municipality of Barakaldo in a terrain previously occupated by Altos Hornos de Vizcaya. It is located 8km away from the center of Bilbao. This new place allows to perform international competitions, and with more capacity, with better services and communications.
The Bilbao Exhibition Centre has an extension of 251.055 square meters, from which 246.457 are destinated to expositions distributed in six different pavilions. The rest is a big commercial center and an hotel. Besides the pavilions focused on expositions, the centre has a VIP pavilion, a congrese center, 6.500 square meters for offices and a big atrium. It also has a subterranean parking with capacity of 4.000 vehicles. A station of Line 2 of Metro Bilbao is also located nearby.
However, the real turism impulse in Bilbao would begin with the opening of the Guggenheim Museum, increasing the number of turists per year, in 2007 623.229 people visited the city. Other data says that 30% of the tourists who visit the Basque Country also visits Bilbao, being this city the main visit on the community, with more people than San Sebastián. The procedence of the tourists is Madrid and Catalonia. International visitors come mostly from France, United Kingdom, Germany and Italy. Besides the turism for entertainment or trips, in the city there is also business turism and congrese turism, thanks to installations as the Euskalduna Conference Centre and Concert Hall and the Bilbao Exhibition Centre, this last one located in Barakaldo.
- Present time
After the serious industrial crisis Bilbao lived in the 1980s, the city has totally repose the bases of its economical development. Since then, it has become a service city, serving as headquarters of important national and international corporations, including two that are between the 150 most powerful companies according to Forbes, BBVA (ranked 40) and Iberdrola (ranked 122).
Inicially, the city only had three streets -Somera, Artecalle and Tendería-, surrounded by a wall which its limits were located where currently is calle de la Ronda (Ronda street). Inside this compound there was a small hermit dedicated to James, son of Zebedee and which currently is the Cathedral of Bilbao. The people on pilgrimage going to Santiago de Compostela stopped here. In the next century, the streets that would form the Seven Streets (Siete Calles or Zazpikaleak) were constructed. In 1571, after several floods and a big fire in 1569, the walls were pulled down to allow the expansion of the city. In the 17th Century, the urban configuration of the Casco Viejo (Old Town) was totally defined, with the expansions to the Arenal and Atxuri.
In 1861, the engineer Amado Lázaro projected an expansion over Abando with wide avenues and regular buildings. However, the project was abandoned due the high costs. Besides, Lazaro had subestimated the population of the city, as he based his researches on the population growth of the three previous centuries.
The new big change in Bilbao's urbanism would happen in 1876, when the city appropiates for itself the elizate of Abando. On the 20th Century, new annexations made the urbanism evolve; in 1925 Deusto was part of the city, as well as Erandio (which was a neighborhood of Lutxana) and some parts of Begoña.
- Green spaces
The green spaces in the city are clasified in "Park and jardins inserted in the urban environment" (335 (Hectares), "Mountains and forests inserts in the urban environment" (963 Hectares) and "Marginal areas" (46 Hectares).
Between the city main parks are the Doña Casilda Iturrizar park, built in 1907 and the main park of the city. It has an extension of 8,52 Hectares, it has a romantic style of the architect Ricardo Bastida and the engineer Juan de Eguiraun. Its infrastructures had been evolving with the pass of time; new elements were added to the original park, including two basketball courts, a digital fountain and a scenary for live performances. Currently, the park is on process of expansion to join to a renewed area in Abandoibarra. The park shelters a sculpture of Eduardo Chillida, another of Casilda Iturrizar and a monumental fountain of Aureliano Valle. At Ibaiondo, the Etxebarria park hosts the installations and cabins during the city's holidays. This park is located on a lot where previously was located an iron foundry. The park is based on a hillside of the city and offers excellent views of the whole city, specially of the Casco Viejo. At the middle of the park, an original chimney is preserved as a tribute of the foundry. Other green spaces include the Europe park, the Miribilla park, the Sarriko park, Ametzola, Larreagaburu, Ibaieder and Eskurtze parks, between others. The denominated Special Plan of the Pagasarri mountain, expects the mountain to become an urban park of 700 Hectares where is included the zone of most ecologic value, the "Bolintxu".
- Consistorial House
The Consistorial House of Bilbao or "House of Bilbao" is the main building where the city council of Bilbao takes place. Opened on April 17, 1892 by the architect Joaquin Rucoba (also architect of the Arriaga theater) using the style of Eclecticism. To decorate the exterior of the building, the architect was inspired by the public architecture of the French Third Republic.
- Euskalduna palace
The Euskalduna Conference Centre and Concert Hall (Euskalduna Jauregia in Basque) is located near the river in the terrains where previously where located the Euskalduna shipyards. The project was designed by the architects Federico Soriano and Dolores Palacios. The building is used for congreses and musical activities. Its construction began in 1994 and was inaugurated in february, 1999. The total surface of the projects is of 2,5 Hectares and has one main room (with 2.200 seats), three minor rooms, eight rehearsal rooms, seven rooms for conferences and complementary installations. Near the building there are several urban art pieces, as the well known "Bosque de Árboles" (Forest of Trees), which is made of street lamps with the forms of trees and placed in groups, forming small "forests".
- Chavarri Palace
The Chavarri Palace (Palacio Chávarri in Spanish and Txabarri Jauregia in [[Basque language|Basque]) is the seat of the Subdelegation of Government since 1943. It is an eclectic-style building built for the Chavarri family by the architect Atanasio de Anduiza following a Belgian project designed by Paul Hankar. The main access has the form of an arc and was opened when the function of the building changed.
- Biscay Foral Diputation Palace
The Biscay Foral Diputation Palace (Palacio de la Diputación Foral de Vizcaya in Spanish and Bizkaiko Foru Aldundiaren jauregia in Basque) is located at Gran Vía (the main avenue of the city). It is a building with solid appearance. It was project on the last years of the 19th Century with eclectic style. It is a Bien de Interés Cultural.
- Arriaga Theater
- Campos Elíseos Theater
- Guggenheim Museum
- Instituto Nacional de Estadística de España. "Poblaciones referidas al 1 de enero de 2008 por municipios y sexo". Retrieved 03 June 2010.
- Spanish National Stadistics Institute http://www.ine.es/pob_xls/pobmun09.xls
- QUIROGA, Ramón; MARRODÁN, Mario Ángel (2001). Bilbao: 700 años de historia. Abanto y Ciérvana: Salgai. p. 17. ISBN 84-9314943-8.
- DE LA PUERTA RUEDA, Natividad (1998). La Ria. Una razón de ser. Fundación Museo Marítimo de la Ría de Bilbao.
- GÓMEZ PIÑEIRO, Francisco Javier (17-10-1979). Geografía de Euskal Herria: Vizcaya. San Sebastián: Luis Haranburu. p. 169. ISBN 84-7407-068-6.
- Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. "La Misión". Retrieved 10 July 2008.
- IGLESIAS, Lucia (1998). "Bilbao, el efecto Guggenheim". Unesco. Retrieved 15 October 2008.
- "Medalla de oro, certificado y 176.000 euros de premio". Retrieved 22 May 2010.
- Government Vicepresidency (22-3-2004). Resolución de 18 de febrero de 2004, del Director de Política Institucional y Administración Local, sobre publicidad de los nombres oficiales de los municipios de la Comunidad Autónoma. Basque Country Official Boletin, n.º 2004055, pp. 5469-5472.
- QUIROGA, Ramón. 2001. p. 41
- TUSELL GÓMEZ, 2004. p. 22.
- Bilbao Ria 2000 Regeneration of the Metropolitan Bilbao
- Bilbao Metropoli 30
- Euskalduna Congress Centre
- INAUGURAL LEE KUAN YEW WORLD CITY PRIZE 2010 LAUREATE
- MONTERO, Manuel. La Ría, una razón de ser: «La Ría y sus hombres». 1998. Pág 37.
- "Google maps (Bilbao)". google.es/maps. Retrieved 03 June 2010.
- Bilbao climate chart (from the Astronomical association)
- City Council climate information
- "Monthly Weather Averages for Bilbao Airport (1971-2000 Data)". Retrieved July 6, 2007.
- GÓMEZ PIÑEIRO, Francisco; et al. 1979. Pag 96.
- MONTERO, Manuel. La Ría, una razón de ser: «La Ría y sus hombres». 1998. Pág 37.
- TUSELL GÓMEZ, Javier. 2004. p. 19.
- MONTERO, Manuel (2005). p. 45.