Probably, the first image that comes to mind when you think of the city of Bilbao is that of the Guggenheim museum. And it is not surprising because this controversial building is a true icon of the city, not only for its ability to draw international attention, but also because it has had a major economic impact for the city and the region.
The Canadian architect Frank O. Gehry was commissioned to design this icon of contemporary architecture, and it was inaugurated on the 18th of October 1997. A short but intense life, if you think about everything that this museum has meant for Bilbao, which is visited every year by one million visitors.
Since the foundations were first laid, the Guggemheim generated much controversy, not only because of the large investment allocated to the project, but also for its innovative architecture characterized by its curvilinear design and complexity of its forms. In fact, throughout its structure there is not a single flat surface, which is quite impressive when you consider the size of the building.
Located on the banks of the estuary of Bilbao, the museum has an area of 24,000 square metres, of which 10,540 are spaces dedicated to the art exhibition, distributed in 19 galleries. There, you can enjoy the exhibitions of the Guggenheim Foundation, and other temporary exhibitions that allow the discovery of new treasures after every visit.
But, the Guggenheim Museum is not only relevant in a cultural and architectural level. This building has had a profound impact on the city, and there is clearly a before and after for Bilbao. It was the key element that initiated the urban, economic and social revival of the city and has also managed to put Bilbao in the international tourism scene.
The outsider’s image of Bilbao changed from that of a decaying industrial city to become a major city for European culture. An landmark that has returned the city to its past glory and thanks to which many people visit Bilbao and get to know of its other charms, such as the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum and the Palace of Congresses and Music.
If you want to discover the Guggenheim museum we recommend that you stay at any of the Petit Palace’s hotels in Bilbao, where you can enjoy the comfort of their facilities, while easily travelling around the city.