One of the most significate aspects of the city of Bilbao is its location. Situated on the ibaizabal-nervion in northern Spain, which would become a common passageway for merchants selling goods. Along with selling goods, the city would also export iron ore found in the ibaizbal-nervion. The ironwork done in Bilbao would produce goods that would sell all around Europe. This port city would become one of the main attractive factors under the kingdom of Castile under King John. This would cause Bilbao to become an economic mecca for the basque region with many foreign workers coming to the city to find work. Iron mining would be a staple of the region for the coming centuries. In the early 20th century workers would form a metal works company called Altos Hornos de Vizcaya which would become one of the largest producers of iron goods during the time in Spain. Supporters of the Altos Hornos de Vizcaya would come from major cities like Madrid, Vizcaya, Barcelona, and even London England. But in the late 1990s, the Altos Hornos de Vizcaya would see a decrease in production due to new European tariffs on imported iron and metal goods.
One of the best museums I’d recommend visiting is Itsasmueum which is a museum that is the Euskalduna ship yeard recreated into a museum covering maritime history. In the museum, you will have a ton of different permanent exhibits. Many exhibits explore maritime sea rescue, navigation, industrial port, shipbuilding, and many more. With admission being free some days the museum is definitely worth a visit and is a good way to learn about the history of the port city and also the economical value of the port.
In 1937 during the Spanish civil war as Nationalists were invading the city of Bilbao, the Spains government would create Bilbo’s Iron Ring. This Iron Ring would consist of a line of fortifications which included trenches, bunkers underground fortifications, used to defend the city and surrounding regions around Bilbos. The Iron Ring would quickly fall to the nationalist when Alejandro Goicoechea would switch sides with the nationalist giving up the groundworks of the fortification which would be easily taken out within the coming days with modern weapons. These weapons would include German airplane bombing raids that would destroy most of the city. But today the Iron Ring is still seen in the mount sides of Artxanda which is the mountain range around Bilbao. The Artxanda is available to the public as you can take a day trip up the mountain to see the fortifications and also get a view of the city.
Bilbao in the 20th century saw itself go from a booming industrial city after the reconstruction of damages caused by the Spanish Civil War. To a down fill-in, economic strength due to local terrorism by the Euskadi Ta Askatasuna has started to recover over the past few decades. Bilbo still stands as one of Spain’s cities that have a rich history of industrialism, art, and culture.