BILBAO Ría 2000

The transformation of Bilbao

Bilbao is the head of a metropolis made up of several municipalities located along the banks of the Nervión River estuary.

Founded in 1300, right on the river’s limit of navigation, Bilbao arose as a city dedicated to maritime trade. During the 19th and 20th centuries an important mining, steel and shipbuilding industry developed here and Bilbao became a great industrial and port city. These activities are located along the riverbanks and condition the urban development of the metropolis.

The industrial crisis of the 1980s greatly affected Bilbao. The closure and modernisation of important industries had a great impact on the whole Estuary area and, at the same time, was an opportunity to recover land of great value for the urban development of the city.

The recovery of these former industrial spaces and the relocation of port activities to the outer bay have enabled the city to access its river front and start a general process of urban transformation.

The spaces previously occupied by shipyards, container beaches or blast furnaces have now been converted into promenades, parks, open-air art galleries, new neighbourhoods and business areas where quality architecture is one of the key factors in this renovation.

The city’s transformation is creating an economic fabric centred on services, culture and new industries. The riverbanks are now at the service of an organised strategy for urban, environmental and economic improvement.