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Bilbao [Spain]

Bilbao is the focal point of a conurbation with a population of almost one million, made up of 25 municipalities situated on both sides of the Nervión River.

Bilbao has been an important commercial hub since the 14th century and experienced unprecedented development in the 19th and 20th centuries thanks to mining in the surrounding area, the steel industry and the shipyards.

Following the steel industry crisis in the 1980's, in 1989, a vast urban regeneration scheme was launched in Bilbao. Major urban programmes were implemented and an ambitious public facilities policy was deployed (including construction of an underground train system, tramway, airport, bridges, etc.) with the participation of renowned architects (Frank Gehry, Santiago Calatrava and Norman Foster). The flagship project of this regeneration plan was without contest the Guggenheim Museum, which has been the determining element in the development of the city's tourism.

The success of the urban planning policy implemented in Bilbao has met with international recognition as well as the award of several prizes: the world's best urban project and the European urban and regional planning prize, etc.

Bilbao has especially good transport links (with an international airport, motorways and rail network) and is a popular de destination for business tourism, mainly thanks to its two conferences centres that are among the largest in Spain. Many events, forums, conferences and international events are regularly organised in Bilbao.

Liège and Bilbao

In November 2013, a delegation from Liège, led by the mayor and councillor for culture, travelled to Bilbao. This visit enabled them to discover Bilbao's accomplishments in terms of urban redeployment as well as visit the many cultural and architectural infrastructures that the Basque city boasts.

In light of the many characteristics shared by Liège and Bilbao, the two cities decided to establish a partnership focusing on achievement of joint projects in the following domains:

  • Culture: Music and Fine Arts
  • Tourism
  • Territorial development