Bilbao is the capital of the province of Vizcaya-Bizkaia and is the most heavily populated municipality in the whole metropolis. Bilbao has a rich cultural heritage, with two of the best art galleries in Spain, six themed museums, contemporary art exhibitions and a continuous program of performances and shows including opera, symphony orchestras, theatre, dance, film and pop and rock music.
The Bilbao Guggenheim Museum is particularly noteworthy. This spectacular building is covered with titanium panels and houses an important collection of its own, as well as sharing the largest and most important private collection of modern and contemporary art in the world with other museums in New York and Venice.
The 700-year history of Bilbao is reflected in its many buildings and structures. The city's Old Quarter has been declared an Historic-Artistic Monument, whereas the modern town center contains examples of some of the best architecture from the twentieth century. Some of the buildings have been the headquarters of many of the major institutions and companies in Bilbao for over a century. Together, they reflect the work of some of the best local architects of the time.
The province of Vizcaya
The landscape in the province of Vizcaya is ruggedly beautiful, with high mountains and deep valleys. It also had a rich cultural and artistic heritage and is known for its enduring myths, legends, food, festivities and traditions.
Gorbeia Nature Park, which is the largest park of its kind in Bizkaia and Euskadi, is a succession of mountains, roads, forests, grasslands, rivers and streams. It also contains the highest peak in the province, Mount Gorbeia, with an altitude of 1,481 meters. The main species of animal living on Gorbeia is the deer.
The protected biotope of Itxina, in the karst area, and Ordu├▒a, located between Burgos and Alava, both have spectacular landscapes with lots of excellent natural attractions. The Urkiola Nature Park, situated a little further west, facing the northern slope of the Oiz mountain range which separates it from the coastal region, is also one of the most beautiful places in Vizcaya. It has an alpine landscape incorporating beech, oak and pine forests and grassy and rocky areas.
The Vizcaya Coast
The Vizcaya-Bizkaia coast (which covers a distance of 150 km), is just steps away from the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum. The coastal area in Vizcaya includes seaside villages, unspoilt beaches and well preserved natural environments like the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve.
Urdabai is one of the most scenic and ecologically diverse areas in the Basque Country, with over 25 different types of vegetation and wildlife including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, fish, molluscs and crustaceans.
There are a number of small fishing ports scattered along the Biscay coast such as Bermeo, Ea, Ondarroa and Lekeitio. There are also a number of tourist towns with fine sandy beaches including Plentzia, G├│rliz, Bakio, etc.
The Vizcaya coast is the perfect place for sports such as diving, sailing, canoeing, surfing and windsurfing. It is also known for its tranquility and excellent local cuisine. Mundaka, in particular, is a true surf sanctuary with some of the best waves in Europe. It one of the best areas for practicing the sport in the world.