Enter the world of Guggenheim with your running shoes!
BILBAO AND RUNNING
A few years ago, Sergio and Aitor were playing basketball in Bilbao. Now, they proudly run and show their city. A few years ago, Bilbao was a dirty and grey industrial city. Now, it´s beautiful place to feel proud of. A while ago, nobody, not even us, Sergio and Aitor, would have believed those two facts. But here we are, meeting people and sharing our passion with them while introducing the city.
Things change so much as time goes by, and Bilbao is a good example to explain that. In the last years, our city has received so many awards, which recognize Bilbao as a modern city adapting to the world we´re living in. Some of them are the Urban Regeneration award, the European Sports City award (some of the Basketball World Cup ´14 games are going to be played in Bilbao this summer) , and two years ago, our major received the Best Major in the World award! We could go on naming the different awards, all of them referring to the big change that Bilbao had in the last two decades.
Seven hundred years ago, there were already people living by the side of a river that we call La Ria. But in 1300, Don Diego Lopez de Haro founded Bilbao.
The river Nervión, or as we say, La Ría, has been the motor of our city. In the beginning, there were only three streets by the side of the river, which got surrounded by another four streets. That way the Old Town was born, and still today, we call it Seven Streets. This is a part of our Historical Bilbao circuit. It´s nice to see how the names of the streets refer to the guilds that were set there.
At that time, ships could enter the river into the Old Town, also known as Casco Viejo in Spanish. That way, products could be sent to other countries and also brought into Bilbao. One of the most important products was iron, taken in the hills in front of the Old Town. The owners of mines made big deals, so they earned lots of money. So much that they started to expand the city to the other riverside. Palaces and big houses rose up, and several expansions in the next centuries gave a bigger dimension to Bilbao. To know about this growing phase, you can choose the Bilbao in 1 Race circuit, but there´s also the chance to follow the Modernism Traces in Bilbao, a new architectural wave that arrived in the beginning of XXth century.
We´ve said that the river was the motor of Bilbao, but there was also another important fact which gave importance to Bilbao. St. James Way, or Camino de Santiago, has brought thousands of pilgrims to Bilbao, and it still does. This fact added great value to culture and also helped Bilbao to grow.
From Begoña Basilica to Santiago Cathedral, crossing the river and following the yellow arrows and shells, you can feel like a pilgrim, just with a little difference: they walk, we run.
From the XXth century, the river became the perfect location for ship factories, and overall, for the industry. Railways and chimneys covered both riversides. Pollution filled the air, the water…and lots of workers came to Bilbao, so the city expanded rapidly, and lots of houses were built up on the hills around. Population rose exponentially and the economy were boosting, but the city wasn´t very attractive. At least, it seemed to be a good social situation. But in the 80´s, just as ships and richness came across the river in the early centuries, so did crisis as well. Gran Bilbao, which includes Bilbao and all the surrounding towns, suffered a big industrial devastation. At that moment, many infrastructures weren´t necessary anymore, people become poorer, so an overall change was needed in order to regenerate the city. What was the solution?
Well, the solution was basically what we can see in the Modern Bilbao circuit. The main point is the Guggenheim Museum, but along both riversides, what we see is something that looks beautiful. Our city’s focus has been shifted from industry to tourism and services. Even if there´s still some industry working, the city has been renewed everywhere: city center, riversides, the Old Town…and the environment has become very important. So much, that if you come to Bilbao, you´ll have the possibility to enjoy the Green Belt. It´s a 72 km long way around Bilbao, but don´t worry! We´ve taken just 11 km of it, including the best views of the city. Running through small and green hills, you´ll see where Bilbao was born, where did it expand to, and how big it is today. From this point, if you look to the other side of the city, you´ll find quite big mountains. Some of them have been included in our trail running circuits, which are slightly more exhausting than the city tours. Anyway, as we always do, we´ll adapt to your pace. Ready to try?
In Bilbao, whenever you decide to come, whatever you want to see, and wherever you choose to run, we´ll be ready to show you our city. As a social activity, we like to promote health, accessibility, ecology, sustainability…We stopped running inside the limits of a basketball court, and we expanded them just as Bilbao expanded from the XIVth century to nowadays. We jumped over the court lines like the city jumped from one riverside to another. And we welcome people like you the same way that Bilbao did during several centuries with pilgrims and workers. We run, tell you about the history of Bilbao, or just talk about anything you like (basketball is a topic we love so much, of course,
but we´re able to talk about much more things!). Will you be the next?