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Spanish in Bilbao

Learn Spanish in Bilbao

Bilbao, or 'Bilbo' in Basque (the official language, along with Spanish, of the Basque Country, the autonomous community that Bilbao is in) is the capital of the province of Biscay and is a city that once appeared left behind in a rapid wave of industrialisation that had given the city a somewhat dazed and dingy appearance, has transformed into a vibrant and modern delight. Any time spent here, particularly studying Spanish and exploring the Basque culture, will provide you with a fascinating insight into the city┬┤s interesting and sometimes polemical past and its captivating and enticing present.

A City of Industry

Bilbao was founded in the year 1300 by the Lord of Biscay, Diego Lopéz V of Haro, on the banks of the Nervión river. The town was granted certain rights and jurisdictional control fell to the 'Consolate of Bilbao'. The city's port quickly became one of the most important in Spain and the city started to grow at a rapid pace. It became a place of great importance for this reason, particularly during the 19th Century Carlist wars when no less than three failed attempts were made to take the city. Bilbao came out fighting and went on to develop itself further and firmly establish itself as the economic capital of the Basque country. A new railway and stock exchange were built and the Bank of Bilbao, later to become what you may now recognise from the Spanish city streets as BBVA. In the midst of all this there was stirring some feelings of a Basque Nationalism nature, but the distraction of the Spanish Civil War came along. Bilbao was the site of the start of the war and in 1937 this key city was taken by Franco's Nationalists.

Nationalist Undertones

Following the Civil War, in Bilbao things more or less returned to normal industrialisation-wise, but the treatment of Basque Nationalist sympathisers under Franco's Nationalists during the war was not forgotten. Whilst industry buzzed, the iron industry flourished and the city as a whole was rebuilt, Basque Nationalism also began to grow and in 1959 Bilbao was the site of the birth of the terrorist group ETA.

As opposed to what occurred in other Spanish autonomous communities after the death of Franco, in the Basque Country the Nationalist Party (Basque Nationalist Party) came into power following elections that were held in 1977. Despite suffering a bad economic downturn in the 1980s, Bilbao has recovered, and recovered in a remarkably visible way. It is now a captivating city of culture and fun. Most recent additions include a compact, but state-of-the-art metro and the celebrated Guggenheim Museum, which attracted over 4 million visitors in its first three years and has been a clear economic success. Bilbao, not just Spain, has had its transition and I think it has turned out rather well. Why not judge for yourself if you choose Bilbao as the spot for a Spanish language course in Spain.

A 'Box' of Cultural Surprises

Known affectionately as 'El Botxo' by its inhabitants, literally meaning 'the box', due to its location nestled into a valley between the mountains, Bilbao did clearly not start out life as a culturally-minded city, paying attention to all things industrial instead, but whether it likes it or not it has most certainly become one. Both Spanish and Basque influences are evident in this city that is now filled to the brim with Museums, Art Gallerys, Exhibitions, music festivals and theatre, not forgetting its ornate Palace, Plazas and market.

Although it is very difficult to compete with the magnificent artesenal 'pinchos' (Basque tapas) that are to be found adorning every bar in Bilbao's neighbouring city of San Sebastian, Bilbao definitely gives it its best shot. La Ribera market, with its three floors of prime meat, seafood and fruit and vegetables, provide all the staples and more for making the decorative and delicious pinchos. From lightly fried piquillo peppers to blood sausage garnished with quail egg by way of the famous 'Gilda', consisting of an olive, a guindilla hot pepper, some onion and a piece of anchovy drenched in vinegar and olive oil, you can try them all here in Bilbao! There is a fierce pride surrounding the art of pincho making and each year local tavern owners and chefs compete to see who can claim the title of making the best pinchos in Bilbao. Many of the fiestas throughout the year held in Bilbao generally have a culinary vein running through them, alongside traditional dance, plays and music, so you can see that this is a city that takes its food seriously.

Bilbao's history and possibly more importantly its modern development and progress have turned it into a cultural haven for any visitor wishing to perhaps prolong their stay here a little bit and study a Spanish course in Spain. The balance of old and new, of socialising and quiet cultural perusal, makes for a perfect backdrop to learning the Spanish language and understanding one of the many different regions that Spain has to offer.