<< Bilbao in Metro

From Bilbao to Santurce

Bilbao, a modern city and a gateway to Europe, is the economic centre of the Basque Country.

Sarriko Station

Start your visit by taking time to appreciate Sarriko station. It is worthwhile using the lift and escalators to see the station in its entireity. Certainly spectacular, the stunning Sarriko station, unlike the others that were made using a tunnel boring machine, was created by a 20-metre deep false tunnel This tunnel excavated from outside ensures that the whole station is naturally lit.

Sarriko station has the longest stairway of Metro Bilbao, which is 16.5 metres long. The mezzanine is supported by concrete structures. Due to its characteristics and particularly the design of those structures, Sarriko station is popularly known by different names such as “The Spider” or "The Centipede”.

The Fosterito, the curvey glass entrance structure, is known here as a “Fosterazo”, as it is the largest designed by SirNorman Foster.

In 1998, Metro Bilbao was awarded the Brunel Prize for Railway Architecutre for the whole network overall and Sarriko Station in particular.

Take the metro towards Santurtzi as you are going on a trip to discover the left bank of the River Estuary. Are you ready?

Ansio Station

Ansio Station, even though it is located in the municipality of Barakaldo, is the station for the Bilbao trade fair complex, known as the Bilbao Exhibition Center.

Barakaldo Station

The municipality of Barakaldo has undergone a spectacular transformation in recent years. The industrial Barakaldo has been turned into a town with large pedestrian zones to stroll along or enjoy the many sculptures. It is a dynamic city, which now boasts a huge botanical garden, where its streets are filled with many sculptures. The metro entrances are glass snails here.

Leave Barakaldo Station and go towards Plaza BideOnera square. There are several routes through Barakaldo from here, but you should make your way to behind the Palace of Justice and continue along Calle “GernikakoArbola” to the botanical garden. It has a surface area of 65,000 square metres where you can wander among cherry trees, look at the blue spruces or stand and enjoy the many rhodendron bushes and Japanese maples. Take time to stroll through this botantical garden opened on 21 June 2002 and which is divided into seasonal gardens.

Another option is to set off from the Bide onera square and wander through the centre of Barakaldo. Herriko square, the iconic spot of Barakaldo par excellence, remodelled as the venue for many different events, the Calle Zaballa and Calle Juan de Garay streets where you can spend time in the heart of the shopping centre of the municipality or the Bide Onera square which is home to the coopertive of the same name, the Palace of Justice or Agustín Ibarrola sculptures, are just some of the sights of the bustling and lively areas of Barakaldo.

If you want to leave visiting Barakaldo for later on as there are so many different trips and things to see, you should continue onto Portugalete station.

Portugalete station

After you leave Portugalete Station, make your way down to the stunning Transporter Bridge or Vizcaya Bridge.

Designed by Alberto Palacio who worked with Ferdinand Arnodin, this impressive piece of civil engineering was opened on 28 July 1893, as a solution to the need to link both banks of the river estuary without interfering with the shipping. As an interesting fact, the cost of the journey across in the central part of the gondola cost 5 cents per person, while on the sides, considered to be “First Class” was 10 cents per person. In 1902, the bridge was fitted with electric lighting in honour of the visit of the King and Queen to Bizkaia.

The Civil War took its toll on the bridge, destroying its upper section, which was used to cross the River, and it was rebuilt in 1941.

This bridge is 61 metres high and 160 metres long. It is a transporter bridge with a gondola to transport vehicles and passengers. It was the first bridge of this type built in the world.

On 13 July 2006, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It now has a new 50 metre high walkway, which you can stroll along for 160 metres that turns the transporter bridge into an unrivalled lookout point to enjoy incredible panoramic views. The left and right banks of the river estuary with the Port of Bilbao and the Abra Bay in the background, the marinas and the beaches can be observed from this point. Crossing the river in the gondola is fun. It is currently the oldest transporter bridge in service in the world.

There is a tide meter near to the transporter bridge and it is worthwhile to stop and appreciate this nautical instrument, built in Paris and moved to Portugalete in 1883. It measures the depth of the channel registering the rise and fall of the water with tides, essential information at that time for the ships to be able to safely enter the estuary mouth and avoid the trecherous Portugalete sandbar.

A real must is taking the boat trip along the river estuary from here to the town of Santurtzi. During the trip, you will see iconic buildings such as the Oriol Palace, which has now been converted into a hotel, but was the tourist destination of the wealthy classes of the 19th century who visited the Basque Country to “take the waters” of the Bay of Biscay. Some of the sights along this enjoyable river cruise are the “Monument to the Sardine Industry”, the Sculpture by Francisco Sobrino “Unstable Transformation” or the “Monument to Our Lady of El Carmen”, patron saint of seafarers and Santurce since 1907. This beautiful trip takes you past many sculptures and architectural features until it ends in Santurtzi. The construction of the seawall and the start of work on the outer port at the end of the 19th century had a great impact on the transformation of Santurtzi. With these works, some areas of the coast disappeared and the fishermen’s association, the fishing port, the park and the Reina Victoria promenade were built on the land reclaimed from the sea.

Make your way up the Maestro Calles street street to the Santurtzi Metro station. The Marqués de Casa Torre mansion is just opposite the station. Built in the 18th century, this majestic building still bears a beautiful corner coat-of-arms of the family that lived there. This mansion is now a cultural centre that hosts a wide range of exhibitions. Dramatised visits emulating the people who lived there in the 18th century are also organised.

The finishing touch to your visit is Santurtzi station itself. It is worthwhile taking time to appreciate this Metro station,which is a fine example of the architecture of Sir Norman Foster. The fundamental planning idea was a metro network close to street level, with direct and easy access, and with sizeable stations. High vaulted ceilings,where no one would feel closed in. The design of the platform cavern is original, simple and effective. A work that is the perfect example of engineering and architecture working together.

Fundamentally three materials were used: concrete,stainless steel and glass.

The halls and mezzanines hang from the roof of the station itself, creating the sensation of very light structures when they are solid and resistant in reality.

The entrance and exit pergolas, nicknamed by the local people as “Fosteritos” in tribute to their designer, are glass gems that add the finishing touch to the entrance tunnel. At night they shine with artifical light as a work of art in themselves and they are semi-transparent during the day, provide protection from the rain and involve minimum maintenance. They are the symbol of Metro Bilbao.

There is still much more of Gran Bilbao to see.