Bilbao is the greatest economic icon of the Basque Country and one of the most important cities in Spain.
The precise origins of Bilbao have not been determined, but early settlements in the area are dated around the third or second centuries BC. The city was officially established by Diego López of Haro V, lord of Biscay, who approved the city charter in 1301, a compilation of rights and privileges that would prove fundamental to its later development. The city experienced a steady development based on its maritime and commercial importance.
In the XIX and XX centuries the economic progress was associated to the iron and steel industry. Since the mid-1990s, Bilbao suffered a process of deindustrialization and transition to a service economy, supported by investment in infrastructure and urban renewal.
Bilbao has now become a dynamic city, full of amenities and focused on environmental and urban regeneration. With its lands freed from the old industrial settlements, the city is now undergoing a new physical transformation, becoming more and more appealing to visitors. The impressive Guggenheim Museum and the Euskalduna Palace, a conference and music centre, have become the icons of the new Bilbao, a city that is gradually regaining space and handing it back to the people