| Bilbao is the main city within a metropolis composed of a number of towns on
the banks of the River Nervión.
Bilbao was founded in the year 1300 at the mouth of the river as a trading
port. During the 19th and 20th centuries it became a focus of mining activity,
iron and steel production and shipbuilding, and grew steadily into a large
industrial port city. These activities were carried out on either side of the
river, and conditioned urban development in Bilbao.
The industrial crisis of the 1980s had an enormous effect on Bilbao. Closure
and modernisation of a considerable section of industry had a huge impact on
the entire waterfront, and also provided an opportunity for urban development
within the city.
Recovery of those old industrial spaces and transfer of harbour activities to
the outer bay have allowed the city to look out over its waterfront and
initiate a general process of urban transformation.
The spaces once used by the shipyards, the container areas and blast furnaces
are now riverside promenades, open-air art galleries, new districts and
business zones, where quality architecture is one of the keynotes of this
Transformation of the city is creating an economic framework focusing on
services, culture and new industry. The river is now at the service of an
orderly strategy of better town planning, an environment-friendly attitude and
a stronger economy.