Sep 27, 2017 - National Geographic Orion
Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao is one of the most iconic structures of modern architecture, and arguably the last great museum of the twentieth century. Its jumble of fish-scale titanium-plated surfaces, the first such structure to be built using computer modelling, is compelling viewed from any angle and succeeds, in spite of its modernity, in harmonizing both with the surrounding architecture of the city – it incorporates the Puente de La Salve river bridge into its design – but also with its recent industrial tradition. For by having the vision and the confidence to risk investing in this building, what was a failing, depressed de-industrializing community sitting amidst the ruins of an outmoded iron and ship-building industry has transformed itself into a premier tourist destination, with more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other city of comparable size and a list of iconic buildings built by celebrated international architects keen to follow in Frank Gehry’s wake. Today the city is vibrant and self-confident, its ancient Basque language in widespread public use and with a majority of its schoolchildren following their entire curriculum in the language, a language not permitted in the public sphere as recently as the 1970s under the Franco régime.
Our afternoon visit saw everyone visit the Guggenheim Museum, with options afterwards to attend a Basque cookery demonstration, take a photo walk with our photo team, or to take a walk through the historic old quarter of the city. With a relaxed cruising schedule we were able to offer the option of an evening in town that many guests availed themselves of.
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