Bilbao is the largest city in the Spanish part of the Basque Country. It lies on the North Atlantic coast and is known primarily as a place where it has been possible to harmoniously combine history with modern buildings. Thanks to the opening of the Guggenheim Museum in the city, Bilbao has become one of the main cultural centers in this part of the country.
The city was founded in the 14th century and served primarily as a port from which wool and iron were exported. In the nineteenth century it became an important industrial center, while during the civil war in Spain in the 1930s it was the capital of the Basque Republic, which was pacified by the army of General Franco. Over the years, the neglected city caught the wind in its sails at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries. Then, post-factory areas began to be developed with the participation of famous architects Frank Gehry, Norman Foster and Santiago Calatrava.
The most famous Bilbao building constructed at the beginning of the 21st century is the Guggenheim Museum designed by Frank Gehry. Its futuristic body compared to a spaceship is a work of art in itself. The museum's collections include works by the greatest contemporary artists including Andy Warhol and Eduardo Chillida.
But Bilbao also has a very pleasant Old Town. Popularly known among the local Siete Calles, i.e. Seven Streets, it is full of historic, mainly Baroque tenement houses and squares surrounded by arcades. There is also the Gothic cathedral of St. James, which in the Middle Ages was an important stop for pilgrims heading to Santiago de Compostela.
An interesting monument located in the suburbs of Bilbao is the Biscay Bridge over the Nervion River. It is inscribed on the UNESCO list and is one of the few operating gondola bridges in the world. It was built in 1893 according to project of one of Gustav Eiffel's students, Alberto Palacio, and to this day he is carrying a gondola to pick up several cars across the river.