Day 2: More of Enchanting Bilbao (The Alhóndiga)

After breakfast we then proceeded to another walking tour around Bilbao this time to the direction of another famous landmark of Bilbao, theAlhóndiga, designed by French designer Philippe Starck.


It was originally a wine warehouse then later designed by Basque architect Ricardo Bastida and inaugurated in 1909. However, in the 1970s, a new warehouse was planned and the Alhóndiga was abandoned. Several projects were suggested, ranging from public housing, a museum of modern art, or even demolishing the entire building, but all were scrapped. Finally, in 1994 it was decided to renovate it and build a sports and culture centre. The Basque Government decided to declare the building “Public Property of Cultural Interest” in 1999.


French designer Philippe Starck has completed the renovation  in Bilbao to create a new culture and leisure centre for the city.

Alhóndiga Bilbao Cultural and Leisure Centre comprises three main buildings within the existing structure. The roof houses a sun terrace and enclosed swimming pool, with transparent roof and floor that can be viewed from the plaza below.

The swimming pool viewed from inside the Alhondiga structure

The swimming pool viewed from inside the Alhondiga structure

Entering the Alhondiga, you will be greeted with the  “Gran Plaza Central”, an area of more than  6k m2 surrounded by a colonnade with 43 pillars with the task of supporting the internal buildings in the shape of a cube.


One of the most photographed columns depicting the Rooster

The 43 pillars holding up the three buildings symbolise the millions of columns and the infinity of cultures, architectures, wars and religions man has gone through over history. The Italian theatrical designer has, in this space, brought to life the cinematographic vision of the designer of Alhóndiga Bilbao in his particular interpretation of this place.


To enter the  atrium is to become lost on a journey through that cultural and geographical diversity which has influenced man’s transformation.


There is no established order, no closed script to travel through this history. Every visitor can contribute their view, creating their own itinerary, awakening their capacity to invent histories. The only aspect governing the lay-out of these sculptures is the intention of not placing columns of a similar material or style together, so that each one has its own importance and just relevance. This journey is an opportunity to reflect on the importance art has in our lives, even when we are unaware of it.


Information Center inside Alhondiga


Sources: Wikipedia, Bilbao Turismo

One thought on “Day 2: More of Enchanting Bilbao (The Alhóndiga)

  1. I loved the remodel by Philippe Starck of the Alhondiga, wish more people would do this, it is beautiful, old and new, come to Los Angeles and do something, Thank you, The world is a better place because of Philippe starck. Will Grover

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