Thursday, August 2, 2018

Bilbao, Spain

Bilbao historically developed into a shipbuilding center, and was the wealthiest city in all Spain by 1900.  But the middle of the 20th century saw natural disasters and civil war cripple the city.  Happily, the unveiling of the cutting-edge Guggenheim Museum, designed by Frank Gehry, sparked a transformative boom in the 1990s that has brought the city roaring back to life.

The Guggenheim Museum and some of the exhibits:

Some street scenes in Bilbao: We certainly saw gay right march, and people gathered to eat pintxos.


A community center.  The Bilbao government originally wanted to donate this building for the  Guggenheim Museum, but was rejected by the Guggenheim Foundation.  It turned out to be a good thing.  The new museum on the river front is far more attractive, and the citizens of Bilbao get to enjoy the community center, which is set-up to be inclusive, and has a roof-top swimming pool!

Using Bilbao as a base, we set off to explore the Basque coast.  Guernica was established in 1366, and became the eventual seat of the Basque parliament, which conducted business in a 16th century Assembly House.  An oak tree was the first traditional official meeting spot.  The Assembly House was rebuilt in 1833.  In 1937, the German Luftwaffe bombed Guernica non stop for three hours.  Almost all of Guernica laying waste, with the exception of the Assembly House and the oak tree.
Picasso painting named Guernica immortalized the nightmare.

The flag remembers the oak tree:
 The Assembly House
 Remember the oak tree, which shows on this beautiful ceiling window:
 Inside the Assembly House:
 The fifth generation of the oak tree:
 The original oak tree:
We drove along the coast, and stopped at a local winery to taste some wine before heading back to the hotel.

It was another beautiful and educational day!

On one free afternoon, we asked Carmen to lead us (by public transportation) to see the Bridge of Biscay, which is the first transporter bridge designed by Alberto de Palacio.  Alberto de Palacio (1856-1939) was a Spanish engineer born in the northern Basque country.  His design of the Bridge of Biscay not only won him rewards, but the bridge itself is now on the UNESCO list.

The transporter can hold six cars each time.  On both sides of the transporter, people can ride along, which was what we did back and forth.

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