The contrasts of the metropolitan area of Bizkaia
The Nervión estuary is the backbone of the metropolitan area surrounding the capital of Bizkaia, Bilbao. Along its banks there are places full of contrasts where industrial heritage, stately homes, fishing ports, beaches and traditions are all within easy reach and also connected by the Metro Bilbao network.
Industrial remnants and seafaring flavour
The past full of factories on the Left Bank (Margen Izquierda) of the estuary has left behind the best examples of the golden age of industry in Bizkaia.
The loading bay of the Franco Belga mining company, in Barakaldo, or the Illgner Building, an electrical transformation building inaugurated in 1927 and which served Altos Hornos de Vizcaya are two of these vestiges. But the most important legacy left by the latter company follows the course of the estuary: the Sestao High Furnace (Horno Alto de Sestao), the only one that has been preserved to the present day.
And very close to the mouth of the estuary, stands the jewel of the territory's industrial architecture: the Bizkaia Bridge. This iron giant is the world's first ferry bridge. It was erected in 1887 and was declared a World Heritage Site in 2006. It is still in operation and its upper footbridge, 60m high, offers impressive views of the metropolitan area of Bilbao and the Bay of El Abra.
The estuary opens up to the sea in Santurtzi, a municipality with a marked seafaring character whose fishing tradition can be felt in its Fishermen's Guild, which houses the Museum of the Sea, and can be experienced on a visit to the Agurtza tuna fishing boat.
Palaces, cliffs and seaside alleys
On the Right Bank (Margen Derecha), Getxo preserves the connection with the industrial past and the testimonies of lives dedicated to the sea.
Between the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the industrial bourgeoisie expressed their tastes in the villas and mansions they built all over the town. In the Muelle de Las Arenas and the Muelle de Arriluze you can follow an itinerary that tells their story.
The Punta Begoña Galleries bear the traces of the transformation that took place in Bizkaia 100 years ago, which can be visited on guided tours.
The Old Port of Algorta is another place that is not to be missed. Walking through its streets is like travelling back in time. Its small white houses huddled together, its narrow streets and steep slopes, the smell of saltpetre... take you back to its fishing past.
Getxo is also the starting point for the route that takes you to discover the 16 sites of Geological Interest that form part of Flysch Bizkaia and which run along the coast of the territory -except for the Little Causeway of the Giants of Fruiz- until you reach Bakio.
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