Skip to main content

Skip to navigation menu

Alerta

Should we let you know?

If you want us to notify you when we publish a new audio guide, leave us your name and email address.
:-)
We will not use your information for commercial purposes or distribute it to third parties.
You can insert this audioguide on your website.
To do this, use the following HTML code:

Skip to navigation menu

Hanging Bridge

Getxo, Bizkaia

It might sound strange, but as it happens, Bilbao’s Hanging Bridge is not in Bilbao. It is located between Portugalete and Getxo. Its official name is not that one either, but Bizkaia Bridge or in Basque, Bizkaiko Zubia. But the thing is; the subway of the city brings you here in no time and also this wonder is a work by Alberto de Palacio y Elissague, an architect who everyone considers from Bilbao despite the fact that he was born in France, so, that explains the popular name.

read more

It might sound strange, but as it happens, Bilbao’s Hanging Bridge is not in Bilbao. It is located between Portugalete and Getxo. Its official name is not that one either, but Bizkaia Bridge or in Basque, Bizkaiko Zubia. But the thing is; the subway of the city brings you here in no time and also this wonder is a work by Alberto de Palacio y Elissague, an architect who everyone considers from Bilbao despite the fact that he was born in France, so, that explains the popular name.

Call it as you want to call it, you are facing a unique work that has been here since 1893, and that in 2006 was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco, and for this, as you know, it has to be something pretty impressive.

You see: at the end of the 19th century, the Industrial Revolution had the whole world very busy; and so was Bilbao, which was growing at full speed with its mines and ships. So, although it was a good idea to link the two banks of the river, it was even better to do so without disturbing those ships that were coming and going.

Alberto de Palacio came up with something groundbreaking: a bridge without pillars and without anything that, according to tradition, a bridge should have. A structure capable of supporting a nacelle transporting people, vehicles and whatever was needed. That project would become the first ferry bridge in the world made with the material of the future and progress: metal.

The imagination of the architect did not end by conceiving the bridge; he had to keep some of it to work out how to get the money to do it. The industrialists and bankers did not see such project very clear, and the architect ended up creating a society with twelve other people. This way they were able to bring the French engineer Ferdinand Arnodin, a guy with good experience in suspension bridges.

Arnodin had been a pupil of Eiffel, yes, yes… the one of the tower that watches over Paris. He was going to be in charge of the construction of the revolutionary metal ingenuity, although the discussions with Alberto de Palacio were not going to be few or mild.

But perhaps you are wondering why it was so important to join the two banks of the river. What was there on either side that it was worth spending so much time discussing how to communicate them without disturbing the ships?

Well, there were two spa resorts, one on each bank of the river, surrounded by their respective summer populations. This way, with the work done, tourists, bathers and the well-off people of Bilbao could come and go greeting each other by raising their hats and saving a twenty-kilometre walk to do so.

But even this beautiful bridge had to suffer in the Civil War. So much that was demolished in 1937, to cut off the advance of Franco’s troops, being rebuilt years later. And is still here since then, as a symbol of the Industrial Revolution and passing a little less heat since in 2010 when they decided to paint it in a different colour.

It turns out that the original colour that Alberto de Palacio had decided to paint it with, which was black, absorbed too much thermal radiation and caused dilatations in the structure. So a reddish tone was chosen to solve the problem. Do you like the result? Then, what are you waiting for to cross it?


Hanging Bridge

Bizkaiko Zubia
48930 Getxo
(+34) 94 480 10 12

Google Map

Other nearby places

Did you like this audioguide? ¡Share it!