Bilbao is a cosmopolitan city, open to Europe. Despite its industrial character, the live rhythm of the city and the warm-hearted welcome of its inhabitants make it a place where students find they feel quickly integrated.
At present, business, leisure and culture are seen as symbols of the new city. The estuary, which in times past was the commercial and industrial axis, is now seen as the cultural artery. The construction of the Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao by renowned architect Frank O. Gehry in the old port area, across the river from the university, has served to revitalise the city, thus motivating an important influx of tourists both on a national, as well as an international scale.
The Euskalduna Congress and Concert Hall, and the new facilities at Bilbao Exhibition Centre (in the nearby town of Barakaldo) are examples of trade and business tourism, which have characterised Bilbao's leading role with its International Fair, one of the most important in Spain.
On the other hand, the beauty of its landscape and natural surroundings makes the Basque Country an ideal environment to go on excursions and trips both along the coast and inland. There is a wide range of cultural and artistic activities that can be enjoyed throughout the year, ranging from viewing cave paintings and artistic monuments to visiting art galleries, theatres and attending musical performances, summer courses, etc.
As an example of the Basque culture and its spirit, we should not forget some examples of traditional culture such as religious pilgrimages and popular feast days, Basque sports, traditional folklore, etc. These include Bilbao's Semana Grande ('Great Week or Aste Nagusia'), which is held for nine days starting from August 15.
Special mention should be made of the cuisine in the Basque Country, which is renowned for having set the foundations of culinary tradition.The excellent food and local drinks like 'Txakoli' are a special attraction in themselves.
Bilbao?s transformation was selected for showcasing at the 2010 universal exposition in Shanghai. Bilbao will be attending the Shanghai Expo as a model for urban renewal, thanks to the extraordinary transformation undergone by the city over the last 25 years.
You can find updated information about the Basque Country and the city of Bilbao on the following websites:
Bilbao Town Council
Regional Council of Biscay
Basque Government Website
Bilbao City Map