Diego López de Haro founded the Villa de Bilbao on 15 June 1300. In the early 20th century, Bilbao was the economic powerhouse of the Basque Country and one of the most important in Spain. However, the iron and steel industry was hit by a deep crisis at the end of that century that forced the city to rethink the basis of its economic development.
The Euskalduna Conference Centre, the docks, the Carola crane and the old pump house at the Ria de Bilbao Maritime Museum are the symbol of the Bilbao shipbuilding industry.
In just a few years, the City and surrounding town would be forced to tackle the difficult industrial restructuring. Industrial land becomes the space for internationally awarded spatial transformation (Abandoibarra) that has positioned Bilbao as a powerful tourist destination.
The great emblem of this "New Bilbao" is the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, designed by Frank Gehry. Today, the Old Quarter (Casco Viejo) is a first class tourist area that preserves the traditions and identity of the city. Santiago Cathedral is erected in the same area, replacing the old chapel dedicated to the Apostle. The Gothic style temple is one of the most emblematic buildings in the city.
The transformation of Bilbao is environmental as well as urban, displayed in the recovery of the estuary, the soul of the city and silent witness to its history, the backbone for communication and trade, where buildings and works by the best architects and artists in the world are found, magnificent riverside walks where you can also enjoy a host of leisure, sporting and cultural activities.
Completing the strategic project for the transformation of Bilbao are the new bridges, the metro, airport and tram. These infrastructures, many of them designed by renowned architects (Norman Foster, Santiago Calatrava, etc.), form an excellent mobility network, connecting Bilbao and its neighbourhoods with surrounding communities and also internationally.