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Bilbao sits on the northern coast of Spain in the Basque region close to the border with France and is the most important port in Spain. It is home to the new Guggenheim Museum, perhaps the most important architectural statement made in the last half-century, that stands above the banks of the Nervian River, its curves of gleaming titanium dazzling in the sun. This amazing work of art houses some of the world's greatest modern art, including important works by Picasso, Miro, Matisse, and Chagall. Also worth a visit is the Museum of Fine Arts to complement your experience at the Guggenheim. Luckily, the city has taken care to preserve its colourful Basque heritage. Explore the 16th century in the Gothic Barrio. The old city's notable landmarks include the Gothic-style Cathedral of Santiago (14th century), the Plaza Nueva (early 19th century), and the Renaissance-style churches of San Antonio, Santos Juanes, and San Nicholas.
Established as a settlement of mariners and ironworkers, the city prospered in the textile trade in the 16th century and in trading with Spain's American colonies in the 18th century. It was besieged four times during the Carlist Wars.
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