Rise of the New Bilbao: Moyua

08/09/2021

Some cities have a city centre that is a must see. New York has Times Square, London has Trafalgar Square and Bilbao has Moyua. The main area of commerce is around it and some of the best shopping the city has to offer is near it. Moyua is the heart of Bilbao.

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Moyua, also known as Plaza Eliptica, truly is the centre of the city. If you google map Bilbao the point you are taken to is Moyua. If you're taking the subway around town you'll pass through the Moyua station. This square is the artery where the commercial centre is located. If you're going from the main park (Dona Casilda Park) to the Olde Town (Casco Viejo) you'll most likely pass through Moyua. In many ways this plaza is the nerve centre of this vibrant city.

Creation

Plaza Moyua was constructed in the 1940's by architect Jose Luis Salinas. It is named in honour of the former mayor Frederico Moyua. It is located on Bilbao's main street Gran Via de Don Diego Lopez de Haro. Constructed in an elliptical shape with the main plaza being in the centre. Around the plaza is a traffic loop where eight streets converge.

Moyua was remodelled in 1997 by the son of the original architect. This reinvention of Moyua was needed after a six year construction process putting in the Moyua subway station below. Both Lines 1 and 2 pass through Moyua Station. This metro station is the closest station to the Guggenheim. 

Read the Authentic Basque Country article about The Bilbao Effect: What to See Around the Guggenheim Museum.

Exterior

There are eight different buildings that surround Moyua. The architecture of some of these buildings is eye catching and worth studying. The oldest of these buildings is the Chavarri Palace which was built in 1888. This Government of Spain building is fashioned in a Belgain style of architecture and is designed to look like a palace from the Renaissance. To the right of this palace you can see the Iberdrola tower in the distance.

Another eye catching building is currently being used by the Carlton Hotel. It was built over a seven year period from 1919 to 1926. It's architecture is in the French Napoleon III style. This type of design was in keeping with hotel construction of the time.

Beside the Carlton Hotel are the offices for the State Tax Administration Agency. Built in 1943 it was constructed during the reign of Franco, the long time Spanish dictator. Atop this building the coat of arms of Franco was cast. However, in 2017 the Francoist elements were removed. Today the shield that remains is that of Basque Country.

Plaza Eliptica also has two entrances to the Moyua Metro station. This station was the first station opened and is the second most used station of the network. Moyua station opened to the public for the first time in November of 1995.

These two entrances are glass tubes that rise out of the sidewalks in a very slick and aesthetically pleasing manner. These entrances possess stairs and escalators. If you need an elevator there is a separate entrance just around the corner on Grand Via.

Interior

The interior of the plaza features a fountain at the centre. This fountain is the original fountain from the 1940's construction. It is the most common spot for people to have their photo taken in front of.

Two different rings of gardens that circle the plaza. The larger ones being closer to the fountain while the smaller one being closer to the exterior of the plaza. The inner gardens are split into eight different sections with walking paths going between them. The two largest sections have flowers, grass, and trees that are considered English style flower beds. The other six are packed with flowers and are French style flower beds.

The outer rings of flower beds are much thinner and act like a picture frame for the plaza. They are French style flower beds with walking paths between them. There is a variety of species of flowers which may change depending on the year. In season the blossoms are truly vibrant and bring the plaza to life unlike other city's main squares.

Future

The city of Bilbao has already announced that Moyua will go through another transformation. This next round of evolution for Plaza Moyua will be pedestrianization. The commitment is that traffic will no longer be allowed in Moyua nor parts of Gran Via. We will keep you posted so stay tuned for more...

Moyua truly is the centre of Bilbao. It embodies the different stages of development, growth, and evolution of this world class city. It was once a car focused plaza in an industrial city. Now, it is a place that embraces the subway and public gardens. Moving forward, Moyua will become a place that no longer includes the automobiles that were at the fore of its creation.

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Authentic Basque Country was born on a a rainy day in Gorliz, Biscay when Adam moved to Bilbao from British Columbia, Canada.

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