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Study in Bilbao, Spain

Study in Bilbao, Spain

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Bilbao along the river

Bilbao is a beautiful Spanish city with a long and storied history that dates back to the early 14th century.  The city and municipality serves as the capital of Spain’s Biscay Province, and is located in the autonomous community of the Basque Country.

Bilbao is the most populated city in the breathtaking Basque Country and the tenth-largest city in Spain, boasting a total population of nearly 400,000 permanent residents.  The combined metropolitan area of Bilbao is home to roughly one million inhabitants, making it one of the most populated regions in Northern Spain.

The city of Bilbao can be found in Spain’s north-central region, approximately 9 miles (14 kilometers) south of the well-known and very gorgeous Bay of Biscay, where the estuary of Bilbao is formed.  Its primary urban epicenter is almost completely surrounded by two small mountain ranges, and sits at an elevation of 1300 feet (400 meters) above sea level.

Bilbao, Spain is the heart of a metropolis which has recently become a vigorous service city—one that is experiencing a continuous social, economic and aesthetic makeover, prompted in part by the building of the iconic Bilbao Guggenheim Museum and other important and attractive infrastructure improvements, including its new airport terminal, rapid transit system, and the current development of the Abandoibarra and Zorrozaurre neighborhoods.

Things to Do and See in Bilbao

There are many great things to do and see in Bilbao. Some of these include:

Guggenheim Museum (Museo Guggenheim)

First opened in the year 1997, Bilbao’s majestic, titanium Guggenheim Museum is one of Northern Spain’s most iconic architectural marvels, a building that almost single-handedly elevated Bilbao out of its post-industrial depression and vaulted the city into the 21st century.  Moreover, the museum served as a launching point for further urban development and placed Bilbao firmly in the world’s art and tourism spotlight.

Designed by Canadian architect Frank Gehry, the Guggenheim Museum’s construction, with its flowing canopies, cliffs, promontories and towers, is just as impressive as the art contained within.  The interior of the Museo Guggenheim is intentionally vast, and its cathedral-like atrium stands more than 45 meters high.  The museum’s permanent exhibits completely fill the ground floor and include a number of incredible pieces of modern art.

Although the permanent exhibits are a treat for the eye, many of the Guggenheim Museum’s patrons come solely for the temporary exhibitions, which last year included the life’s work of Yoko Ono and the sculptures of Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto.

Casco Viejo

Bilbao’s trendy and historic old quarter, known as Casco Viejo, is comprised of charming houses on picturesque streets, lively bars and nightclubs, and quirky independent shops offering many different types of merchandise.

At the core of Casco Viejo are the neighborhood’s original seven streets—known locally as Las Siete Calles—which date back to the 1940s.

Perhaps the highlight of Casco Viejo is the 14th century church known as the “Gothic Cathedral de Santiago,” which boasts a beautiful, Renaissance-style portico and unassuming little cloister. Tracking further north in the neighborhood, guests will discover the 19th century Plaza Nuevo, a section of town known for its delicious tapas.

Funicular de Artxanda

Hemmed in by hills, Bilbao is located in a small, tight valley. For the best views of the city, nothing beats a ride on the Funicular de Artxanda, which offers guests a ride far above the city as it makes its way up the wild Basque Mountains. For nearly a century, this unique form of transportation has been offering visitors a grand perspective of everything Bilbao has to offer.

Ensconced between the Bay of Biscay and the gentle foothills of the Cantabarian Mountains rests the gleaming city of Bilbao, pride of the Basque country and one of the grandest cities in the north of Spain. By turns classical and futuristic, Bilbao is blessed with a timeless grace and elegance born of its unique culture and unsteady history. Bilbao is the city of the Guggenheim, Frank Gehry's iconically cloudlike museum building, as well as a number of historic churches and the constant hum of steady urban activity.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of Bilbao is the lifestyle and culture of its residents. Emphatically distinct from the rest of Spain–the region even has its own language, which bears not the slightest linguistic relationship to Spanish–the Basque country and its people have retained a spirit of independence for literally thousands of years. In fact, when Weston pre-historians generally agree that the past people have been living their lives and developing their culture in this area for as long as 4000 years, longer than perhaps any other surviving European civilization.
Life in Bilbao today is characterized by the dictum of “work hard, play hard.”

Bilbainos have a well-deserved reputation as indefatigable workers, driven and determined in all that they do; yet their city also has a fun side, as evidenced by the size and popularity of its throbbing nightclubs and the legendary parties that continue well into the early hours of the morning. Bilbao is also the best place on earth to sample Basque cuisine, by far the most famous strand of Spain’s culinary heritage. Tapas, a regional favorite known locally by the Basque name “Pintxos" can be found throughout the city, alongside world cuisine and various forms of international fare. For sheer gastronomic bliss, there are few destinations better than Bilbao.
The famed Basque hedonism is one of the main reasons for Bilbao's popularity among college students. Many young people from foreign countries come to build all in an effort to improve their Spanish–despite the fact that Spanish is not the main language in the city. They typically enroll in classes at colleges and universities, and often have the opportunity to stay with a local family. These homestays added an invaluable personal and cultural dimension to the experience, and maybe a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn a few of the delightful secrets of Basque cooking!
There are several universities and colleges in and around Bilbao, most of which offer instruction in Spanish and/or Basque (and, in a few exceptional cases, English). While the city is not particularly famous for its educational institutions in the way that, for example, Barcelona might be, it has several reputable institutions that prospective students can choose from. The largest of these is the University of Deusto (14,000 students), which is affiliated with the Catholic Church.