It is so good to be back on track by having the uplifted, creative mood just in time to deliver the next Royal Endeavors travel episode at a relatively fast pace, highering the standards on my blog to the now optimal frequency of posting to twice a week.
I have so many great memories in Basque Country, not to mention brilliant pics taken in the time pressuring conditions of organized tours and strict timelines, that I really take my time now in having the best mood possible in order to deliver greatness and also plenty of spare time to invest in writing and editing the material in order for my experience to be conveyed properly.
This royal episode is dedicated to the delightful Bilbao and its fabulous tourist attractions, although I will only stick with the ones I had the pleasure of visiting during those few hours we had available to enjoy ourselves in this remarkable city. Of course, depending on the duration of your stay in Bilbao, you will have many more amazing opportunities to connect to its sparkling vibe and contageous positivity or to enjoy its very tempting offerings.
We will start the marvelous journey with the Santiago Cathedral in the District of Casco Viejo, whose construction began in 1397 until the beginning of the 16th century and underwent a profound reconstruction in the 19th century. This was the first attraction that involved free time allowed by the guide to get the pulse of the surroundings, which I personally invested in visiting it, as you probably already have noticed by now how much I enjoy the solemn (neo)gothic decor, the graceful quietness and the faithful resistence of such majestic temples throughout history.
Plaza de Santiago, 1
Every day 10:00 → 20:00
July and August: 10:00 → 21:00
Prices may vary from 5€ for an individual to 4€ for seniors and 3,5€ per person for a group, students and reduced. All prices include audioguides. FREE entrance does not include the audio guide.
You can check the full conditions of admission on the Public Visit section of http://catedralbilbao.com/public-visit/
Public Visit Coordinator
+34 664 605 588
The temple is consecrated in honor of the apostle Saint James the Great (Santiago in Spanish), by virtue of being a point of transit for the pilgrims that followed the Northern branch of the Way of Saint James.
Architecturally, the building is a mixture of styles: from the 15th century Gothic of the cloister and the main vault, where of special interest are the cloister and the beautiful portal that gives access Correostreet (Puerta del Angel), to the ostentatious Gothic Revival façade and spire.
It should not be confused with the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
What I loved most about this cathedral is the playful light beam entering the high windows of the Roman Catholic temple which gave the impression of a saint with a covered head with his body made out of light. It was fascinating for me to discover this divine resemblence solely caught on camera inside the cathedral, which could not be noticed with a naked eye.
I’m sure the pictures look just as impressive as that moment was for me.
Abandoibarra Etorb., 2,
From Tuesday through Sunday, from 10 am to 8 pm.
Monday closed, except: March 18, April 15 and 22, all Mondays in July and August, September 2 and 9, and December 23 and 30, 2019
17€ Adults – 9.5€ Seniors – 9.5€ Students
Entrance includes audioguide, magazine and plans.
+34 944 35 90 00
+34 944 35 90 80
For the lovers of modern and contemporary art, Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao could be an exquisite choice to spend quality time in the famous building designed by Canadian American architect Frank Gehry, which was inaugurated on 18 October 1997 by King Juan Carlos I of Spain. One of the most admired works of contemporary architecture, the building has been hailed as a “signal moment in the architectural culture”, because it represents “one of those rare moments when critics, academics, and the general public were all completely united about something.”
What looks like architectural chaos in terms of curves and shapes, will be transformed into order and harmony as you access the main atrium but I wouldn’t know that from my own experience because we chose to enjoy the surroundings of the museum and have a fancy choice of tapas in the Museum’s Bistro instead. I totally recommend the sangria – it is absolutely delicious!
It turns out my intuition works out perfectly in regards to the decision of having skipped visiting the museum, as it seems the Art critic Brian O’Doherty was positive as well about approaching the building but criticized the museum’s interior effect, saying “[O]nce you get indoors things are a little different. Even the so-called site-specific works didn’t look too happy to me. Most of the interior spaces are too vast.” He went on to describe how works by Braque, Picasso and Rodchenko “looked absurd” and tiny on the museum’s walls.
We did visit the shop inside the Museum though, where the planets were favorably aligned so I can mix and match two universal messages involving knowledge and charisma, the attributes everybody wants, money can’t buy and very few can afford.
Although art always feeds my soul, the relationship I have with both modern and contemporary art does certainly not come as a priority. Having the best ice cream in the world served by the Amorino shop just across the street from Guggenheim Museum was the highlight of my adventure in Bilbao. Speaking of which, has synaesthesia ever happened to you? The phenomenon consists of the production of a sense impression relating to one sense or part of the body by stimulation of another sense or part of the body. This is exactly what happened when I tried the Nina Ricci pink, parfume flavored ice-cream! Orgasmic! I am definitely confident using this word is accurate in regards to the kind of taste satisfaction I experienced savoring the hints of mandarin unfolded by the God scented sorbet, which I combined with the mesmerizing fragrance of litchi in a fabulous rose petal signature ice cream bouquet, delivered in a crunchy cornet, adorned with an All Mighty pink macaron on top. There is simply no matching to that level of greatness.
Metro stop: Areeta / Portugalete
The gondola service is in operation 24 hours a day. The walkway is open from 10:00 a.m. until sunset.
+34 94 480 10 12
Another cool activity to try in Bilbao is a trip with the famous transporter bridge that links Las Arenas (Getxo) with Portugalete which has been declared a World Heritage Site by the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO and is over 125 years old. Designed by architect Alberto Palacio, disciple of Gustave Eiffel, it was opened in 1893.
The transport of vehicles and passengers is carried out by a hanging carriage or gondola, which is suspended from a 36 wheel trolley that is 25 metres long and travels along the rails of the horizontal section.
Next on the list on the same day was the picturesque Santillana del Mar, a town in the Cantabria region of northern Spain. It’s known for its medieval towers, Renaissance palaces and the Romanesque Santa Juliana Collegiate Church.
It is said that the city name consists of three lies, as it is not about a saint (Santo), is neither flat (Llanos) and has no sea (Mar). However, in fact, the name comes from Santa Juliana, whose remains are kept in the College, a Roman church and the former Benedictine monastery.
Southwest of town, the National Museum and Research Center of Altamira focuses on prehistoric life and art discovered in the nearby Cave of Altamira. To the east, Santillana del Mar Zoo has ring-tailed lemurs, snow leopards and tigers.
Of course we didn’t see any lemur or tiger but after the vibrant Bilbao, the quietness and greenery of the medieval town was exactly what we needed.
I can’t go on without mentioning Santillana del Mar is located near the Altamira Cave, renowned for prehistoric parietalcave art featuring charcoal drawings and polychrome paintings of contemporary local fauna and human hands. The earliest paintings were applied during the Upper Paleolithic, around 36,000 years ago.
The site was only discovered in 1868 by Modesto Cubillas.
Aside from the striking quality of its polychromatic art, Altamira’s fame stems from the fact that its paintings were the first European cave paintings for which a prehistoric origin was suggested and promoted.
The Altamira region was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO as being a key location of the Cave of Altamira and Paleolithic Cave Art of Northern Spain.
Due to the inestimable worth of the cave paintings and the strict preservation conditions they impose, the caves can no longer be visited by the public.
I hope you have enjoyed this Royal Endeavors episode exclusively dedicated to Bilbao and Santillana del Mar! I will see you darlings in a bit with another fabulous tourist attraction you should not miss in Basque Country. Until then, I wish you to enjoy your lovely vacation as well!
Glory To The Holy,