City of Bilbao, Spain’s biggest port and the 6th largest city, is situated in the heart of the Basque Country. Port of Bilbao is in the centre of the European Atlantic coast, on the eastern side of the Bay of Biscay. This geographic location enables Port of Bilbao to link with the main international ports, especially in northern Europe. After 700 years of acting as a port, nowadays over 200 maritime services link Bilbao with 500 ports worldwide. Last year, Port of Bilbao handled over 110,000 passengers, a drop of 18 per cent on the previous year due to the spread of low cost airlines and the war in Iraq, which led to a slump in bookings and a rise in fuel prices.
All classes of cargo and vessels can be received by the port, which operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and has no problems with draughts or tides. Such conditions have made Bilbao a first-class cargo distribution centre. Its immediate neighbourhood comprises a metropolitan area of one million inhabitants. In addition, four million people live within a 200-kilometre radius, while there are 16 million within 400 kilometres. The Port is also an excellent route towards the European market and its 320 million consumers. The transport of goods via the Port of Bilbao is of huge benefit to the economy of the Autonomous Basque Community.
Bilbao Attractions. Bilbao’s medieval heart is at Casco Viejo, which was built in the 14th century. It is an old, pleasant neighbourhood best known for its open-air food markets, where shoppers can buy some of the freshest and best-tasting fruit and vegetables in Europe. It is packed with cobbled lanes, leading to the Basilica of Santiago, in addition to an anthropological and archaeological museum. Visitors to Bilbao must see the new Guggenheim Museum, a fantastic chrome and metal creation that houses a large collection of modern and contemporary art; its bizarre shape upset many locals when it was built. There are other museums to visit including the Museo de Bellas Artes, containing both modern and medieval works. The commercial heart of Bilbao has many bankers, attracted by the shipbuilding and shipping interests of the port. The only way to see and enjoy the old town is by foot. Several bridges connect the old quarter of Bilbao on the east side of the river to the new side. Visitors can climb the famous 64 steps to the top of the town to the church built in the 1500s or see the Cathedral built in the 14th century.
Other attractions include the museums Museo a Euska/Museo Vasco, Casa de Cultura de Barrainkua and Altamira. There’s also the historic village of Santillana Del Mar and the Concepcion Careaga art gallery. Bilbao has several theatres including Centro Municipal Bilborock-La Merced, Festival Internacional de Cine Documental y Cortometraje de Bilbao, Palacio de Congresos y de la Musica, Galeria de Arte Artebi and Supermercado de Arte.
Bilbao Shopping and Dinning. Bilbao offers a feast for shoppers from its designer boutiques to the high street chains. Hang out at the famous Plaza Moyua square in the Bilbao town centre or visit the markets Feria de Artesania de Bilbao, Feria del Libro and Mercado Rural de Santo Tomas. A wide range of restaurants offer everything from international cuisine to Spanish tapas. By night, Bilbao has several discos and bars to choose from. Visit the cozy Bar Juantxu, known for its beer and tapas; strap on your dancing shoes at a very hot salsa club, Jaragua; hang out with the chic and the sophisticated at Caos; and relax to the soothing sounds of live blues at the popular Cotton Club bar.
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