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.
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:
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.