The Guggenheim is the landmark building of Bilbao. It was an extraordinarily farsighted decision by the local burghers to locate it here. The initial idea met with much opposition. Why spend such an enormous sum of money on one building? Couldn’t the money be spent on better things? Who’s going to come here anyway, just to look at a museum? Luckily for Bilbao the proposers of the scheme persevered and the rest, as they say, is history.
Almost overnight Bilbao was transformed from a backwater to be avoided to a must see destination. Within the first years of the museum opening hundreds of thousands of tourist began to pour into the city just to see the Guggenheim. Bilbao was changed forever. Then came the obvious knock on effects of hotels opening, the airport expanding, upgrading of all facilities, extra employment etc etc. Today the advances continue as Bilbao continues to strive to make itself a tourist friendly destination.
The Guggenheim was designed by Canadian architect Frank Gehry and opened in 1997. It’s hard to come up with new descriptions of the Guggenheim. There is no doubt though that it is one of the most extraordinary and beautiful buildings you will see anywhere. Standing by the side of the river, its soft undulating lines represent, if anything, a shipping vessel. It’s clad with hundreds of silvery titanium plates which change in tone with the light of the day, and given the constantly changing Bilbao weather the museum transforms itself on a continuous basis from morning until night. For the best view of the Guggenheim cross to the other side of the river where you can see it in its full perspective.
Take a seat at 05 Crazy Horse Pub (Bilbao’s original British pub with live music and imported beers) and marvel at the stupendous sight across the river. The more beer you consume the better the theories as to what the shape of the Guggenheim really represents!
The Guggenheim itself is just as fascinating inside as out. I sincerely believe most people don’t really care what’s on exhibition they just go in to gaze at the breathtaking interior design. Spectacular walkways suspended from the ceiling link the 19 galleries spread over three floors and a good head for heights is necessary. You can spend all your time just wandering these walkways, marvelling at the interior contours, the design, the use of light or just looking out at the river views.
Exhibits vary. Some are permanent and others rotate on a six month basis. See the Guggenheim Bilbao Official Website for more information.
Outside the Guggenheim at the front entrance is Puppy. Puppy is the giant floral coated mascot of the museum. A giant sculpture in the shape of a dog it is covered in multi coloured layers of flowers. It is quite stunning and is just as photographed by the hordes of tourists as the museum itself.