You are going to spend 1 day in Bilbao during your vacation in Northern Spain and you are looking for ideas. You are in good hands! Our team of local experts in the basque country region has hand-picked the best ideas to enjoy in the capital of Guipuzcoa: parks, museums, art-galeries, churches, plazas and more in the “Botxo” (this is the way locals from Bilbo or Bilbao refer to this fascinating city).
The Bilbao Fine Arts Museum is is located in the city of Bilbao. It is one of the main museums in the country, with an amazing chronological breadth, spanning from the thirteenth century to the present day, and for the great diversity of artistic styles it contains. … Read More
Parque de Doña Casilda de Iturriza
Parque de Doña Casilda is Bilbao´s largest park, it has been enlarged with the transformation of Bilbao around the Guggenheim museum. Its extension of close to 10 acres is home to up to 1,500 of different botanical species. Basketball courts, children’s playground areas, and a pond make of the Doña Casilda park one of Bilbao´s favorite places to enjoy with children. It was designed following the idea of large parks in industrial cities in the United Kingdom.
Work to create the park started in 1907 and since that time it has evolved, though always stayed loyal to its original romantic idea. The original plans to create the park date back to 1876. At that time, there was an idea to build a large park at the end of the Abando neighborhood. But as mentioned above, the plan did not become a reality until 1907. Architect Ricardo Bastida and engineer Juan de Eguiraun were in charge of the project. The park was funded by Doña Casilda de Iturrizar Urquijo, Bilbao´s richest woman, and who, perhaps due to her humble origins, dedicated part of her fortune to improve the lives of the working class. Inside the park, you will find a statue by the famous Spanish artist Eduardo Chillida. There is also a classical style merry-go-around and a cybernetic fountain.
Parroquia de San Nicolas de Bari
The church of San Nicolás is part of the landscape of the area of El Arenal in the city of Bilbao. An octagonal 14C building, it was completely renovated in the 18C in baroque style; the old pillars from the shrine served as the foundations. Inside there is a fine wooden altar and sculptures by Juan de Mena. The church of San Nicolas de Bari is worth visiting during your stay in Bilbao. the Church is not usually amongst the most interesting things to do in Bilbao, but we believe it makes sense to stop in front of it and enjoy its baroque facade. if the Gates are open, a short visit will reveal some interesting statues and a few anecdotes!
History of the Church of San Nicolas in Bilbao
The Arenal is a very pleasant promenade today, but this was not always the case. El Arena was a marshy area located outside of Bilbao. It was a fishermen’s district. The Arenal translates literally as the “sandy place” and a pier existed here.
The Church of San Nicolás we find today is built on an old medieval hermitage. This hermitage was built in honor of San Nicolas de Bari, patron saint of sailors. The hermitage was expanded as the population in the area developed, but this church was totally destroyed by the important floods that took place in Bilbao in 1553.
Today´s church of San Nicolás de Bari was completed in 1756 and is a Baroque building. The area where it stands is very different from the place where the church originally stood. Think of docks, grey warehouses, and mood… if you get the picture right and you walk through the Arenal today you will understand the deep transformation of the city of Bilbao during the last part of the XXth century.
Church of San Nicolas – highlights
The best-known feature of the church of San Nicolas is its façade. Decorated with a bronze relief, it is its two towers on its sides that concentrate most of the attention. Something of special interest about this church is in its plant. A careful look at its architecture reveals that the plant is Greek, and not the most traditional Latin plant. The Greek cross plan is built inside a square and it is covered by an interesting octagonal dome.
If you pay attention to its façade you will identify the coat of arms of Bilbao, which is carved on the façade
Inside the interior of the church of San Nicolas, the most interesting items we find are a collection of sculptures by Juan Pascual de Mena. Juan Pascual de Mena was an important sculptor in Spain, an artist from the Royal Academy of San Fernando, and with works spread in different corners of Spain, including the Cathedral of Toledo or the Royal statues in the Oriente Square in Madrid. His most well-known work is probably the statue of Neptune in Madrid near the Prado museum.