August 15, 2018

Bilbao Outdoor Art Walk

Bilbao, Spain, is home to one of three fantastic Guggenheim museums (the other two are in New York City, USA, and Venice, Italy). I haven't been to the other two, but my trip to Bilbao was sure to include this one. However, the city of Bilbao itself is an outdoor art and architecture walk just waiting to be enjoyed. The green spaces, old buildings and churches, and various outdoor displays make this walk around the newer part of Bilbao a great introduction to the current culture of the city and finishes at the Guggenheim to top it all off.

Let's get started at the Jardines de Albia Lorategiak. Notice, most location names in Bilbao also come with a Basque translation. Bilbao is Bilbo, and this park is also called Albiako Loretegiak. Knowing both names can come in handy, as not all signs show both Spanish and Basque!


This is one of my favorite fountains ever. So simple, so serene, and I think a "raining umbrella" would be an excellent invention for hot days.


The Iglesia de San Vicente stands to the north of the park and welcomes visitors with its beautiful sculptures and gardens.

Making our way northwest on Colón de Larreátegui Kalea, we will soon end up in Jado Plaza with the Fuente de los Leones, the Fountain of the Lions.


Next steps are toward Moyua Plaza via Ercilla Kalea, where you will find this gem of a building called the Txabarri Jauregia, a former palace. The square is a hub for the west side of Bilbao with several bus stops, shops, and services available. It's also the easiest place to go to and from the Bilbao airport by bus.


After spending time walking around some busy city streets, we are going to head into the largest green space in Bilbao, the Casilda Iturrizar Parkea, just behind the Museum of Fine Arts.


Take your time wandering through this park to admire the interesting fountains, landscapes, birdlife, duck pond, and people.



As we reach an upward slope in the center of the park, we will be facing the Pergola del Parque de Doña Casilda. It's a quick minute to the shady portico area, overgrown beautifully with vines and mossy plants.


I especially liked the tiling on the floors and columns, and it is probably the best place to read a book and take an outdoor nap in Bilbao.


Leaving the Pergola area on the other side, pretty fountains await you as well as this detailed Estatua de Doña Casilda Iturrizar, the namesake of these gardens and the donor of the land.


As we exit the northwest side of the park, we head back into the city area, where we find the huge Palacio Euskalduna. This event venue has various artistic areas in the front, including this root-like mass. On the way toward the river, there is also an array of geometric street lights that seem to be fashioned after trees.


At this point, we cross the river Ría del Nervión O de Bilbao, peeking down to the left at the Maritime Museum and dockyards. But we are on our way to a more curious attraction: the Tigrearen Eraikina, more easily understood as the Tiger Building. The building was home to Correas el Tigre and built in 1941. The tiger was added in 1942, and stands out from all the rest of the buildings along the waterfront park area.


It's best to continue walking along this side of the river in our approach to the Guggenheim. We can cross the river on the pedestrian bridge of Pasarela Pedro Arrupe and have excellent views of the museum's twists, turns, and curves the whole way.



Going along the side to the front of the museum will bring us to the giant flower "Puppy" that is regularly tended to and updated with new colors.


Basque: Ongi etorri! English: Welcome! We have arrived at the Bilbao Guggenheim, and I do hope you have the time to enjoy the interior and art exhibits. When I went in early August, 2018, an absolutely majestic exhibit by Joana Vasconcelos called "I'm Your Mirror" was on display. I'm not one to really sink my teeth into modern art, but her pieces were awesome (Cinderella's coach reimagined as a helicopter, giant high heels made out of pots and lids, large gun made out of old dial-up telephones, an ironic chandelier that cracked me up, and the key piece of a larger-than-life masquerade mask made out of gorgeous antique-like mirrors). I'm positive whatever the Guggenheim puts on display has similar intensity and creativity and is not to be missed!

*Also, make sure you reserve your tickets in advance online if you do not want to wait around. Typically, the museum is most busy in the mornings and the crowds thin out a bit more in the afternoon.


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