An open door to the future
Bilbao is a city with a strong personality, which has cultivated its traditions and always been ahead of its time.
In only three decades, Bilbao has gone from being a city with serious environmental problems, with an industrial system in structural crisis, to becoming one of the most attractive cities in Europe to live, visit or invest.
Our calling card shows Bilbao as a modern European city, provided with attractive urban spaces, high quality architecture and a top level offer in terms of culture, gastronomy and leisure, at the service of a technologically advanced industrial region, well positioned in the business world.
The people of Bilbao are proud of the Guggenheim Museum, but also of how the titanium is reflected in the rehabilitated waters of the estuary.
It is a pleasure for us to take the new riverside walkways which connect the medieval heart of the old quarter with the avant-garde architecture which has made Bilbao an international talking point.
We tell visitors that the Euskalduna Conference Centre and Concert Hall is a building-ship built on the site of the old shipyard; and that the Alhóndiga, the old wine and spirits warehouse, is already a point of reference for the development and dissemination of urban culture.
And we recommend that they take a walk up Artxanda hill from where they can admire the best views of the city.
Town planners describe the changes that Bilbao has undergone over the last three decades as an urban revolution. I prefer to talk about a process of urban transformation which, incidentally, is still going on.
This is because together with big urban projects like Abandoibarra, Ametzola, Miribilla, Basurto-San Mamés and Zorrotzaurre, Bilbao has provided itself with a new model for a sustainable city on a human scale, based on an urban, social, economic and environmental balance.
Once again, innovation and the capability of the people of Bilbao to constantly reinvent the city enable us to look to the future with optimism and a desire to do better.
Something similar happened in 1300 when Bilbao was granted city status, separate from the rest of Bizkaia; in 1511 when the Consulate of Bilbao privilege, predecessor of the Chamber of Commerce and other similar institutions in the rest of Europe, was granted, and at the end of the 19th century, when the city really began to take off in financial and industrial terms.
It is good to know about history to find out where we came from and where we are going. In the case of Bilbao, history shows that the secret of its success lies in always banking on new horizons that enable us to move forward as a city and as a society.
We still have a lot to do. Among other things, to fight bravely against the crisis that is hitting the country and almost everybody. We also still have to find the road to peace and to creating wealth in order to remedy many difficult situations. That too is a task in which I hope I can count on the support of all the people of Bilbao.