Spanish city
native_name = Bilbao
spanish_name = Bilbao
nickname = El Botxo ("the hole")
city_motto = La Muy Noble y Muy Leal e Invicta
city_motto_means = The most noble and most loyal and undefeated

image_flag_size = 150px
image_coat_of_arms = Escudo_heráldico_de_Bilbao.svg‎
image_coat_of_arms_size = 110px

image_city_map_size = 300px
image_city_map_caption = Location of Bilbao in Spain and Biscay
lat_long = coord|43|15|51|N|2|55|25.50|W|display=inline
time_zone = CET (GMT +1)
time_zone_summer = CEST (GMT +2)

image_skyline_size = 300px
image_skyline_caption= Panorama from Etxebarria park.
founded = 15 June 1300
native_language = Basque
community = Basque Country
community_link = Basque Country (autonomous community)
province = Biscay
province_link = Biscay
comarca = Greater Bilbao
comarca_link = Greater Bilbao
divisions = 8
neighborhoods = 36
mayor = Iñaki Azkuna
political_party = PNV
political_party_link = Basque Nationalist Party
area = 41,3
altitude = 19
population = 354,145
date-population = 2006
population-ranking = 10
density = 8,575
date-density = 2006
website =
postal_code = 480XX
area_code = 94

Bilbao, (also "Bilbo"), in the North of Spain, is the largest city in the Basque Country and the capital of the province of Biscay (Basque: "Bizkaia").The city has 354,145 inhabitants (2006) and is the most financially and industrially active part of Greater Bilbao, the zone in which almost half of the Basque Country’s population lives. Greater Bilbao’s 950,155 inhabitants are spread along the length of the Nervión River, whose banks are home also to numerous business and factories, which during the industrial revolution brought heightened prosperity to the region.


A major seaport and industrial centre, the city is located on the Estuary of Bilbao, the city's suburbs extending to the Bay of Biscay. The population of the city of Bilbao proper was 354,145 in 2006. The population of the urban area of Greater Bilbao ( the conurbation) was 935,000 as of 2004 estimates. Population of the metropolitan area (urban area plus satellite towns) was 950,155 as of 2007 estimates, ranking as the fifth-largest metropolitan area of Spain [ [ AUDES project 2007 statistical data] ] . As of 2008, the mayor of Bilbao is Iñaki Azkuna.

In the north, Bilbao’s city edge is considered to be around the towns of Erandio, Sondika and Derio, in the east it is encompassed by Zamudio and Etxebarri. The southern border passes outside Basauri and Arrigorriaga and in the west, Barakaldo and Alonsotegi are the furthest extremes. The urban area is enclosed by two small mountain ranges called Pagasarri (to the south) and Artxanda (to the north), this fact gives the city its nickname, "el botxo", "the hole".


The city of Bilbao is divided into eight different districts, including the following neighbourhoods:

*1st District "(Deusto)": Deusto, San Ignacio, Ibarrekolanda, Arangoiti, Ribera de Deusto/Zorrozaurre
*2nd District "(Uribarri)": Uribarri, Matiko, Castaños, Zurbaranbarri and Ciudad Jardín

*3rd District "(Otxarkoaga-Txurdinaga)": Otxarkoaga and Txurdinaga
*4th District "(Begoña)": Begoña, Santutxu and Bolueta
*5th District "(Ibaiondo)": Casco Viejo, Bilbao La Vieja, San Francisco, Zabala, Atxuri,(La Peña) Iturrialde, Solokoetxe, Abusu and the newly developed neighbourhood of Miribilla.
*6th District "(Abando)": Abando and Indautxu.
*7th District "(Rekalde)": Rekalde, El Peñascal, Ametzola, Iralabarri and San Adrián,
*8th District "(Basurto-Zorrotza)": Basurto, Altamira, Masustegi, Olabeaga and Zorrotza.


Bilbao has an oceanic climate, generally mild, with not too extreme temperatures. January average temperature is 9°C and July average 21°C. Precipitation is around 1200mm per year, almost entirely rain, although every winter it snows three days on average [ [ Bilbao climate chart (from the Astronomical association)] ] .

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 maximum (13 August 2003) and - 8.6°C minimum (3 February 1963). The maximum precipitation in a day was 225.6 mm in 26 August 1983 when severe flooding was originated by the Nervión River. [ [ City Council climate information] ]
Infobox Weather
location = Bilbao (1971-2000)
Jan_Hi_°C =13
Feb_Hi_°C =15
Mar_Hi_°C =16
Apr_Hi_°C =17
May_Hi_°C =20
Jun_Hi_°C =23
Jul_Hi_°C =25
Aug_Hi_°C =26
Sep_Hi_°C =24
Oct_Hi_°C =21
Nov_Hi_°C =16
Dec_Hi_°C =14
Year_Hi_°C =19.1
Jan_Lo_°C = 5
Feb_Lo_°C = 5
Mar_Lo_°C = 6
Apr_Lo_°C = 7
May_Lo_°C = 11
Jun_Lo_°C =13
Jul_Lo_°C =15
Aug_Lo_°C =15
Sep_Lo_°C =13
Oct_Lo_°C =11
Nov_Lo_°C =8
Dec_Lo_°C =6
Year_Lo_°C =9.4
Jan_Precip_mm =126
Feb_Precip_mm =97
Mar_Precip_mm =94
Apr_Precip_mm =124
May_Precip_mm =90
Jun_Precip_mm =64
Jul_Precip_mm =62
Aug_Precip_mm =82
Sep_Precip_mm =74
Oct_Precip_mm =121
Nov_Precip_mm =141
Dec_Precip_mm =116
Year_Precip_mm = 1191
source =Bilbao climate chart (from the Astronomical association) [cite web
url = |title =Monthly Weather Averages for Bilbao Airport (1971-2000 Data) | accessmonthday = July 6 |accessyear =2007
language =
accessdate = July 2007


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 Zarra", "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".

Nearby places like Sestao and Ugao-Miraballes have the same ending that could be Basque "aho", "mouth".


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 1511 the Consulate of Bilbao was granted to the city by the Spanish Crown, this allowed Bilbao to be the main export port for Merino wool from Castile to the northern European cities, like Antwerp.

Bilbao became the most important commercial and financial hub of the Spanish north coast during the Spanish Empire era. The swords exported through Bilbao were known in England as "bilboes".


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 limited 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.

The 20th century

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 a good number of bunkers linked by kilometers 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. [ [ Bilbao Ria 2000 Regeneration of the Metropolitan Bilbao] ] [ [ Bilbao Metropoli 30] ] [ [ Euskalduna Congress Centre] ]

Tourism and monuments

As well as the famous Guggenheim Museum, the city acts as home for the Fine Arts Museum recognised as one of Spain’s finest art museums and recently refurbished) and the Maritime Museum on the Nervión’s banks, which recently hosted the RMS "Titanic" exhibition which has been touring Europe. Museums are only a part of the city's attractions.

Since the inauguration of the Guggenheim museum in 1997, eight new hotels have been opened in the city, reflecting the increasing interest for the city.

Bilbao was briefly featured at the start of the 1999 James Bond film "The World Is Not Enough".

The Bilbao Live Festival, initiated in 2006, is another measure of new interest.
* [ City Hall's Tourism site]

Old Town or "Casco Viejo"

The medieval neighbourhood is the most colourful part of Bilbao, a maze of narrow streets full of taverns, shops and monuments.

Plaza Nueva.
Teatro Arriaga opera house.

Museums and cultural centres

* Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
* Fine Arts Museum
* Basque Museum
* Maritime Museum
* Euskalduna Conference Centre and Concert Hall


* Santiago Cathedral
* Saint Anton church
* Basilica of Begoña
* Saint Nicholas of Bari church
* Santos Juanes church
* Saint Vincent church

Civil buildings

* Arriaga Theater
* Bizkaia Delegation Palace
* City Hall
* Chavarri Palace (Moyúa square)
* Plaza Nueva
* Ribera Market
* San Mamés Stadium
* University of Deusto


* Doña Casilda de Iturrizar park
* Artxanda Funicular
* Zubizuri bridge


Greater Bilbao is the Basque Country's main economic area and one of Spain's most important. The metropolitan area concentrates several key industrial sectors: steel, energy production, machine tool, aeronautics industry, electronics and IT. The municipality of Bilbao has been an industrial one for decades, but the heavier industries have been moved from the city center to the periphery and the city has centered its activities in the services sector which accounts for the 75’5% of the city's added value. The GNP per capita is 19,648 (FY 2000), slightly above the average of the Basque Country and well above the average of Spain. The city is the corporate seat of the BBVA bank and Iberdrola electric company.

The International Trade Fair, now "Bilbao Exhibition Centre (BEC)" hosts many international level exhibitions, specially the "Bianual Machine Tool Fair (BIEMH)", that help dynamizing the economic life. On top of BEC, Bilbao has the Euskalduna Palace as a congress center.

The port of Bilbao is the most important one in the north of Spain and one of the most important in the Bay of Biscay. In 2005, the port moved 36.8 million tonnes, being the fourth port of Spain after Algeciras, Barcelona and Valencia.


In 1970, Bilbao was the sixth most populated city in Spain and the third-highest ranked metropolitan area. In 1981, its population peaked at 433,115. From there on the population of the city proper started to decline. This was due to the fact that the towns surrounding Bilbao that were merged into the city during the 1940s and 1960s (Erandio, Loiu, Derio, Sondika and Zamudio) regained independence and because of a population movement into the suburban towns in in the The right bank, like Getxo and Leioa, whose populations increased sharply. In 2003, Bilbao’s official figures counted 353,173 inhabitants. [ [ Instituto Nacional de Estadística] ]

Decreasing population

Whilst the overall region’s population continues to climb, the city centre has noticed a drop in residents. This is a result of the steady and seemingly unbreakable trend of the city’s people flocking to the coastlines which has been underway since the 1990s, caused mainly by high real-estate prices in Bilbao. Bilbao is one of the most expensive cities in Spain, fourth most expensive after Madrid, Barcelona and San Sebastian.

Industrialised areas have been left in favour of the coast. In fact, of the 18 towns around Bilbao with more than 10,000 inhabitants, only eight - Amorebieta-Etxano, Arrigorriaga, Durango, Gernika, Getxo, Leioa, Mungia and Sopelana – have increased their number of inhabitants. Sestao has been worst hit, losing nearly 11% of its population in eight years.


Since 2001, the number of immigrants in the city has risen steadily each year as a result of increasing migration into Spain. In 2000, 2% of Bilbao's population consisted of immigrants, but this currently stands at 7.5%. As of 2006, there were 23,762 immigrants in the city. According to the 2007 census, there are 26,431 inmigrants in the city. This has helped to reverse the falls in population.

Immigration is mainly based in the old part of the city at neighborhoods such as San Francisco (28.9%), Bilbao La Vieja (19.0%) and the Seven Streets ("Casco Viejo") (12.3%). There are also some neighborhoods with immigration rates above the average, Zabala (10.8%), Arangoiti (10.3%), Ametzola (10.2%) and Iturrialde (9.6%).


The Basque Government is in charge of education in the Basque Country autonomous community.

In Greater Bilbao there are the following Universities:
* University of Deusto: Founded in 1886 by the Society of Jesus, it is one of the most important institutions of Spain. The University has another campus in San Sebastián. The Bilbao campus offers the following studies: Law, Philosophy, Education, Business - "La Comercial", Theology, Politics and Sociology, Engineering - "ESIDE".

* University of the Basque Country: Created in 1968 as "University of Bilbao" and renamed to its current name in 1980. It is a public university with the following studies in Greater Bilbao: Business school of Sarriko (Bilbao), Education (Bilbao), Engineering and Telecommunications(Bilbao), Technical Engineering school of La Casilla (Bilbao), Medium grade Business school (Bilbao), Nautical school (Portugalete), Mining (Barakaldo), Elderly University (Bilbao), Medicine and Odontology (Leioa-Erandio), Sociology and Communication (Leioa-Erandio), Fine Arts (Leioa-Erandio), Laboral Relationships (Leioa), Nursing (Leioa).

Infrastructure and transportation


The city has 13 bridges connecting both sides of the river, it is connected to the European road network by the AP-8 toll motorway and to the north of Spain by the A-8 motorway and to the rest of Spain by the AP-68 toll motorway.


The underground network (Metro Bilbao), inaugurated in 1995, is used by more than 85 million passengers every year. It has 2 lines that connect both banks of the Bilbao Metropolitan Area. There is a project under way to build a third line.


The city has 43 "Bilbobus" bus lines, 28 for normal buses, seven "micro-buses" for zones of the city that a normal bus can't access, and eight night lines. The inner-city bus network has recently won a prize for its efficiency and quality of service. In addition, there are more than 100 BizkaiBus bus lines, connecting Bilbao with almost every point in Biscay and part of Alava. The city's main bus station is called Termibus and is located near the San Mamés stadium.


Bilbao-Abando, main station of RENFE.

The_tram_going_down_Navarra_street.Image:Bilbao-Concordia1.jpg|FEVE trains.There are 7 commuter rail lines operated by three different companies:

Renfe "(Spanish railway network)" has 3 "Cercanías" lines in metropolitan Bilbao::*C1, Bilbao-Abando-Santurtzi :*C2, Abando-Muskiz:*C3, Abando-Orduña

FEVE "(Spanish Narrow Gauge Railways)" has one::*Abando (Concordia)-Balmaseda.

EuskoTren "(Basque railway network)", runs three lines::*Deusto-Lezama:*Atxuri-Ermua :*Atxuri-Bermeo.

In 2002, the new tramway, EuskoTran, was inaugurated. It has one line connecting Atxuri with Basurto. Plans are afoot to greatly expand the network over the coming decade.


A new airport terminal was opened in 2000, expanding the capacity of the former facility, and allowing growth in tourism fuelled by low-cost flights by airlines such as easyJet and Vueling. The airport handled 4,277,610 passengers in 2007.

By sea

A P&O ferry service links Santurtzi, near Bilbao, to Portsmouth (UK). The "Pride of Bilbao" ferry departs from the port of Bilbao, 15 km west of the city centre. A service operated by Acciona Trasmediterranea served the same route from May 16 2006 until April 2007.

Transportation links

* [ Metro Bilbao]
* [ Euskotran, Tramway]
* [ Bizkaibus]
* [ Bilbobus]
* [ Euskotren]
* [ Renfe Cercanias - Bilbao]
* [ FEVE]
* [ Bilbao Transport Consortium]


"Semana Grande" (Spanish for "Big Week", "Aste Nagusia" in Basque) is Bilbao's main festival attracting over 100,000 people and takes place each year, lasting 9 days. It has been celebrated since 1978 and begins on the Saturday of the 3rd week of August each year. People from around Spain, and increasingly from abroad attend the celebrations.

The celebrations include the strongman games, free music performances, street entertainment, bullfighting and nightly firework displays. The best views of the display are from the city's bridges. Each year, there is something different occurring, thus a festival programme (these are available all over the city) is strongly recommended.


thumb|200px|San Mamés stadium, home of Athletic de Bilbao.] In addition to the main sports, soccer and basketball, Bilbao offers the possibility of many outdoor activities due to its location in a hilly countryside, trekking is very popular as well as rock climbing in the nearby mountains. Watersports, specially surfing is practiced in the beaches of Sopelana and Mundaka, easily accessed from the city by car, metro or train.

ister cities

*flagicon|Argentina Buenos Aires, Argentina
*flagicon|Argentina Rosario, Argentina
*flagicon|Colombia Medellín, Colombia
*flagicon|France Bordeaux, France
*flagicon|People's Republic of China Qingdao, Shandong, People's Republic of China
*flagicon|USA Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
*flagicon|Spain Sant Adrià de Besòs, Spain
*flagicon|Philippines Iloilo, Philippines

Famous people from Bilbao

* Miguel de Unamuno, writer and philosopher.
* Gabriel Aresti, poet.
* Blas de Otero, poet.
* Espido Freire, writer.Musicians
* Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga, classical composer.
* Kepa Junkera, folk composer.
* Jesús Guridi, composer.
* Amaya Uranga, singer of Mocedades.
* Mattin, experimental and improvisational musician.
* Fito Cabrales, rock musician.Artists
* Aurelio Arteta, painter.
* Eduardo Zamacoïs, painter.
* Álex de la Iglesia, movie director.
* Pedro Olea, movie director and screenwriter.Science and Technology
* Evaristo de Churruca y Brunet, engineer.
* Alberto Palacio, architect and engineer.
* Leonardo Torres y Quevedo, engineer.Sports
* Rafael Alkorta, football player.
* Gaizka Mendieta, football player.
* Julio Salinas, football player.Politicians
* Sabino Arana, politician from Abando.
* José Antonio Aguirre, first Basque Lehendakari.
* Ernesto Erkoreka, Former Mayor of Bilbao, killed by francoist forces in 1937.
* Joaquín Almunia, politician.
* Josu Ortuondo Larrea, politician and former Mayor.
* Don Diego de Gardoqui, diplomatMilitary
* José de Mazarredo, admiral of the Spanish Navy.
* Juan de Recalde, Vice-Admiral of the Spanish Armada.
* Bartolomé Ferrelo, sailor.Media
* Ramón García, TV host.
* Manuel Aznar Acedo, journalist.


External links

* [ Bilbao's official web page]
* [ Bilbao's Chamber of Commerce official tourism website on the city and surrounding areas]
* [,-2.947769&spn=0.032254,0.05785&t=k&om=1 Bilbao in Google Maps]
* [ BILBAO in the Bernardo Estornés Lasa - Auñamendi Encyclopedia (Euskomedia Fundazioa)] es icon
* [ Bilbao Photogallery in]
* [ Bilbao's skyscraper diagram]
* [ Bilbao Exhibition Centre]
* [ Lost in Bilbao tv, web tv about Bilbao]
* [ Bilbao] Weather Forecast
* [ The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) is based in Bilbao] (see also European Agency for Safety and Health at Work)

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