Mi viaje a España: Basque Country

Just over four months have passed since we returned from our three week sojourn around Spain and I’ve finally got around to our last destination, the Basque Country or more specifically Bilbao and San Sebastián.

Our first stop was Bilbao and of course this city is dominated by Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum but there is so much more to the city than that and we found it to be one of the surprise packets of our trip. Indeed the Guggenheim was not in fact our first destination as we first paid a visit to the soon to be demolished Estadio San Mamés, home of the city’s biggest football club, Athletic Bilbao. Whilst not really architecturally of note it is of huge importance to this revitalised city and as a mad football I had to make a pilgrimage. It it will be sadly missed by the city’s inhabitants when it is replaced by the new stadium designed by AXCT as part of Zaha Hadid’s Zorrozaure/Olabeaga development.

You may be detecting a theme but another highlight was the Campo de Lasesarre, home of Segunda Division B side Barakaldo FC and was designed by Spanish firm Nomad Arquitectura. It was awarded Spain’s best building in 2004 and is a great example of simplicity in design. One of my favourite buildings of the whole trip.

Whilst San Sebastián doesn’t have the massive landmark that Bilbao has what it has going for it is its food. Word is that it has the highest number of Michelin star restaurants per capita in the world and whilst we didn’t sample any of the delights of these restaurants the numerous pintxos (the Basque version of tapas) bars served us well with their small but tasty delights. The city also provided a number of architectural delights as well my first experience of watching a film in Spanish without subtitles.

Guggenheim Museum, Frank Gehry & Associates

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Hesperia Hotel, IA+B

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Isozaki Atea, Arata Isozaki

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Zubizuri, Santiago Calatrava

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Sede de Osakidetza, Juan Coll-Barreu & Daniel Gutiérrez Zarza

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Metro Station Entrances, Norman Foster & Partners

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Campo de Lasesarre, Nomad Arquitectura

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Kursaal Centre, Rafael Moneo

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Museo de San Telmo, Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos

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