While strolling along Bilbao’s Gran Via, you'll find yourself surrounded by eye-catching buildings, and, for one reason or another, all of them deserve a look.
As we continue walking, leaving behind the Abando Station and the statue of Diego López de Haro, the emblematic tower of the BBVA bank office appears, of a classic seventies rationalism style, in grey and salmon colours. Following the same aesthetic line, we have El Corte Ingles. Although the historic building that we find below is not on the same line, it also belongs to the Bank, and it has its winged Mercury on the top, the Roman God of commerce.
But the Palace of Vizcaya’s Provincial Council might be the most surprising construction in the whole area. Itself alone occupies an entire block majestically and does not stand out for its humility or its simplicity.
And that is precisely what the Council wanted when they commissioned it: power, solemnity and authority. Let it be noted that it was a Palace. Therefore, Luis Aladren, who had also designed the sophisticated Gran Casino (now the Town Hall) of San Sebastian, took great care of it to impress the Bilbao bourgeoisie, whose money was beginning to pour out from their ears.
The building was inaugurated in 1900 with an eclectic splendour. Crowded with balconies, pediments, columns and all sorts of Baroque panoply, it was the delight of the new rich that had emerged in the old village with the prosperity of the mines, factories and merchant ships.
Beside this imposing building, without having to look too hard, you will find the statue of a man of noble character, he is John Adams, the second president of the United States, who passed through here in 1780, way before he was elected to such a high office. So we have at least two questions to answer on this matter: what did Adams come to Bilbao for? And, why did the city dedicate this bronze bust made by Lourdes Umerez in 2011?
Well, the gentleman came along here mainly to meet with Diego de Gardoqui, a Basque businessman who would play a decisive role in supporting the American revolutionaries. But in addition to this, John took time to study the Biscayan provincial laws and was impressed by its perfection and good judgement; so he praised and praised those rules and the people who governed them. Which brings us to the second question:
The government institutions thought that it was a good idea to honour one of the founding fathers of the American nation, since he had made the gesture of going through Biscay and overall, speaking wonders of the land. These wonders were finally recorded on the pedestal of the monument and there, gleaming in three different languages is where you can find them.