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If you're planning a trip to Bilbo, the vibrant city in the heart of the Basque Country, make sure to include a visit to the stunning Bilbao Cathedral, also known as Santiago Cathedral. This Roman Catholic church is not only a place of worship but also a historical and architectural gem that will leave you in awe.
The origins of Bilbao Cathedral can be traced back to the 14th-15th centuries when it served as the main parish church of Bilbao. It was later declared a cathedral in 1950 when the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bilbao was established. However, its roots likely date even further back, to a time when Bilbao was a small fishing enclave.
Architecturally, the cathedral is a captivating blend of styles. The Gothic influences are evident in the cloister and main vault, with the cloister and the beautiful Puerta del Angel portal on Correo street being of particular interest. The Gothic Revival façade and spire add a touch of grandeur to the structure, making it a sight to behold.
As you step inside the Bilbao Cathedral, take a moment to admire the intricate details of the interior. The stunning stained glass windows, ornate altarpieces, and the serene atmosphere create a sense of tranquility and reverence.
While exploring the cathedral, don't miss the chance to visit the cloister. This peaceful courtyard, adorned with arches and columns, offers a serene escape from the bustling city. Take a leisurely stroll and soak in the history and beauty of this hidden gem.
Did you know that the San Mamés stadium, home to the local football team Athletic Bilbao, was referred to as La Catedral even before the inauguration of Santiago Cathedral? The stadium's nickname pays homage to the nearby San Antón church and its bridge, which are depicted on the club's crest and the city's coat of arms.
After exploring the Bilbao Cathedral, make sure to check out other nearby attractions. Just a short distance away, you'll find the iconic Guggenheim Museum. Designed by Frank Gehry, this architectural masterpiece houses a remarkable collection of modern art, including works by renowned artists such as Jeff Koons and Richard Serra.
For a taste of local culture, head to the Mercado de la Ribera, the largest indoor market in Europe. Here, you can immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere, sample delicious Basque cuisine, and browse through a wide variety of fresh produce, meats, and seafood.
The Bilbao Cathedral is open to visitors throughout the year, allowing you to explore its beauty at your convenience. However, if you want to experience the city's religious traditions, consider visiting during the Semana Santa (Holy Week) celebrations. During this time, the cathedral comes alive with processions and religious ceremonies, offering a unique cultural experience.
Whether you're a history enthusiast, an architecture lover, or simply seeking a spiritual retreat, a visit to the Bilbao Cathedral is a must. Immerse yourself in the rich history, marvel at the architectural wonders, and let the serene ambiance transport you to a bygone era.
Want to plan a trip here? Build your own hotel+flight package with Live The World, or reach out for personalized advice from one of our travel experts.