bilbao-worth going to

Dec 15th, 2009, 04:55 AM
Original Poster
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bilbao-worth going to

we are leaving for spain this week
we do not have a lot of time there and i was wondering if it is worth driving
all the way up to bilbao to the museum.
some have told me that we should skip the drive and stay around madrid
before driving to barcelona
karen56 is offline  
Dec 15th, 2009, 06:08 AM
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The Frank O. Gehry building is spectacular - it looks very similar to the Opera in Los Angeles, but the riverside setting is much more impressive. The museum with the Guggenheim collection is just average - you will find better art collections in Madrid and Barcelona.

However the most spectacular Gehry building that I have seen so far (and I have seen many) is even closer to your itinerary: it is the Marques de Riscal winery in La Rioja.
Echnaton is offline  
Dec 15th, 2009, 06:51 AM
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I have to agree with Echnaton...and it does have the same "skin" as the Disney in L.A., but is much larger. The collecton is disappointing compared to many others we've seen. However, the region around Bilbao has much to offer, paricularly on the coast (San Sebastian, etc)....but the sight that made the biggest impression on us is just north of Gernika(Picasso's "Guernica"), referred to as El Bosque Pintado de Oma...the Painted Forest of the Basque artist, Agustin Ibarolla. Probably nothing like it anywhere else. So if you do decide to take in the Guggy, just drive northeast to Gernika, continue on the road to the coast and about 3-4 kms you will see signage to the right indicating the road to the Santimamine caves....another few kms., at the little tavern there will be a sign pointing to the unpaved road (at least it was so seven years ago)for about 8 ops. Maribella could possibly give you more detailed directions....are you out there Maribella.

Here are some scanned pics (pre-digital) on magnifying glass icon and move mouse accordngly:

and some web archival pix (archival web pages pix)

stu tower
tower is offline  
Dec 15th, 2009, 07:35 AM
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It's not too bad of a drive, but not one I would do in one day. As far as visiting Bilbao, yes, it and the Guggenheim are well worth the drive, but you would need a couple of days in the city to even begin enjoy what it has to offer.
Robert2533 is offline  
Dec 15th, 2009, 08:17 AM
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It is difficult to answer this question without knowing more details on your trip. You are leaving this week and from your post it appears you are going to arrive in Madrid then driving to Barcelona. How long in total is your trip? How long would you have in Bilbao if you decided to visit? etc....
CathyM is offline  
Dec 15th, 2009, 11:14 AM
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My answer is that Bilbao is interesting, not only for its museum but also the old town. However, I wouldn't say it's better than Madrid.

I agree with Cathy, not knowing how much time you have it's tough to give an intelligent answer. If you decide to go, you could connect in Madrid with a fly into Bilbao.
cruiseluv is offline  
Dec 15th, 2009, 11:20 AM
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If you can do it as day trip, do it, you will not be dsapointed. The museum structure is grand..... get into the city a little and have a nice tappas lunch and relax.
seafox is offline  
Dec 16th, 2009, 12:08 PM
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No doubt you must visit either Bilbao or the BAsque Country...a totally different part of Spain, nothing like Madrid or Barcelona. And the area of the world with the highest concentration of Michelin starred restaurants per head. Some info on my blog,, it may be useful on your decision.
mikelg is offline  
Dec 16th, 2009, 02:13 PM
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I would not go to Bilbao/Basque area unless you could give it at least 3 days. Otherwise, save it for another trip.

MichelleY is offline  
Dec 17th, 2009, 06:21 AM
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I'm sure I'm not the only person in the world who is a fan of great architecture who finds the Gehry Guggenheim in Bilbao disappointing as both a building and museum. The building was built to be a tourist attraction and it shows. It's a witty statement, kind of a goof, on "deconstructing" the great Frank Lloyd Wright Guggenheim in New York City, but you can understand that looking at pictures. Seeing the actual building adds little to your understanding of anything. If you do go, be sure to see the Serra installation inside, the only aspect of the interior of any merit. (The Guggenheim Bilbao sometimes hosts traveling exhibits of merit.) The restaurant cafeteria has a menu designed by a celebrity chef, but the food is microwaved. Eat elsewhere.

Without knowing more about you and your trip to Spain, it's really impossible to tell you whether it is "worth" it for your trip. How far will you be driving? What is the rest of your trip about? What attracts you to going to Spain? Do you care about modern architecture or Disney buildings? Or Michelin restaurants?
stepsbeyond is offline  
Dec 17th, 2009, 07:54 AM
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I have not been disappointed with the building (as art), but have been disappointed with the works displayed, as I have been with some of the shows in Frank Lloyd Wright's monster in NYC.

Gehry's Guggenheim lead the revitalization, the renaissance, of Bilbao and the Basque country after the decades of oppression by the Franco government. That in itself is enough to praise the inspired design, which, if seen from the proper angle, appears to be a salmon swimming upstream to spawn a new beginning.
Robert2533 is offline  
Dec 17th, 2009, 08:00 AM
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I´ve been lucky to live just opposite the Guggenheim (before, during and after it was finished) for some years, and now it´s my parents who still live there. The building is magnificent when you see it from the other side of the river, from the pedestrian bridge or from a close view. It´s true that we´ve lost today the capacity of astonishment, as we have a lot of visual sources of information, but in any case it´s well worth it. I agree with Robert that some times the exhibitions don´t deserve the cost of the entrance ticket...

I mentioned the Michelin thing just to point out that this land is renowned for its food, but not only. The BAsque Country is so different in many aspects from Madrid or BArcelona that a visit is much worth it.
mikelg is offline  
Dec 18th, 2009, 08:48 AM
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Stepsbeyond - just curious - what buildings do you consider to be "great architecture"? As we know architecture is not solely about the building, but of the many elements that drive the creation and sustainability. In this case there are many, in fact it seems to have captured your imaginiation as is eveidenced in your description ... help me understand what is a "great" building.
seafox is offline  
Dec 18th, 2009, 01:44 PM
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Yes it is worth it, but the road/weather conditions may curtail this diversion of your proposed path.
ribeirasacra is offline  
Dec 18th, 2009, 08:11 PM
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The elements that make any work transcend its time is a combination of intellect and beauty or beauty and strength. These chracteristics are almost diametrically exlusive.
Gehry's work are fascinating for the moment. His works will define a specific time and become historical curiosities rather than change the way buldings are designed. The building and the collection are symbolic of the effort, creative and effective on the outisde, empty on the inside.

That is reflective, literally and figuratively of the celebrity world we have created. In the south is the Alhambra. The Moors built in the opposite way. The outside was simple while the inside is ornate and complex to reflect the best of man.

My real problem with Gehry is Gehry himself. For example, when proposals were requested for a monument at the World Trade Center, Gehry wanted his $40,000 for the model. One of the most successful architects of his generation did not see it his heart to waive his fee. That gesture shows how little he understood the project and what cared more about-Gehry.

Then when MIT sued him over design flaws for the Stata Center, Gehry was arrogant enough to say that new creations come with flaws and MIT must live them.

His ego his larger than his buildings. Brunelleschi fought the smallness of those in Florence but it was putpose larger than himself.
Aduchamp1 is offline  
Dec 18th, 2009, 09:00 PM
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Gehry's ego is no larger than that of Robert Venturi, who designed SAM, the Seattle Art Museum, designed without consideration of the untried and expensive structural components needed to make it work. His only remark was that "I only design them. It's up to you to build them". The resulting cost overruns caused at least two engineering and construction firms to go bankrupt. Venturi left with a nice fat check in his pocket and never looked back.

I don't know who has the larger ego, the architect or those who want to be associated with a great work of art. Being arrogant seems to come with the territory, otherwise he might as well be an account.
Robert2533 is offline  
Dec 19th, 2009, 05:29 AM
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I haven't lost my capacity for astonishment and I've seen Gehry's building from the other side of the river, and all humanly possible angles. I don't have any problems with Gehry's ego -- and I admire many of creations. But the commission for the Guggenheim in Bilbao is not one of them, and while I won't dispute it has generated a lot of foot traffic and it's a crowd pleaser, I don't give it high marks for architecture.


Hope you'll settle for a very, very abbreviated list, and if you want to understand great architecture, there are plenty of writers better than me to help you, from John Ruskin to Martin Filler.

The list:

Reichstag dome in Berlin, Lever House in New York City, the duomo in Pisa, St Denis in Paris, British Museum in London, the Acropolis in Athens, the Mezquita in Cordoba, the Pantehon in Rome, the Kiyomizu-dera temple in Kyoto, the Palau De La Música Catalana in Barcelona -- and lest you think I can't appreciate something less than spectacular, the medieaval center of Massa Marittima, Santa Maria dei Miracoli in Venice, the Horta House in Brussels --- can I stop now?
stepsbeyond is offline  
Dec 19th, 2009, 06:09 AM
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I mention Gehry's ego because his buildings scream look at me. Memorable buildings are built with intention of forethought. Guadi's Sagrada Familia is built as his symbol of devotion. Even though his designs are as singular as Gehry's, Gaudi's oddness has a feeling of genuine sentiment not one of brazen intrusion. And there in lies the difference.

The same with I.M.Pei's glass pyramid at the Louvre. When I complained to a Parisian about its interusive nature, she asked what should they have done. The main task was to introduce light in the main entrance. I suggested a modern gothic look with large expanses of glass with either with Chartres Blue or the red from St, Chapelle and bathe the visitors in color.

Take into account the past and the surroundings and the artitsic quality is creating a present and that which last into the future.
Aduchamp1 is offline  
Dec 20th, 2009, 10:07 AM
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The Guggenheim museum has put Bilbao on the map, and I have to be thankful to Mr Gehry for that. When it was just a project, there were by far more people opposing to this museum than supporters. Today, everybody admits that it was the best idea ever to revitalize this former grey city, now a great place to live (although not as monumental as others, obviously).
mikelg is offline  

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