Mungia: An Afternoon Exploration
If you are looking for a nice place to go for the day that's only a stone's throw away from downtown Bilbao then Mungia is the place for you. This vibrant city is known for their festivals but it has so much more to offer. The history, riverside island park and main square are well worth the short jaunt.
Mungia is only a 15-20 minutes drive from Bilbao's downtown core. There are a few different routes to take there and one of them includes a toll. Plan Artxanda-Salbe Tunnel if you want to the toll. Taking the tunnel will save you five minutes or so and will cost less than two Euros.
If you are looking to take public transit out to Mungia there is a bus route available. Neither the metro nor the Euskotren visit Mungia. The Bizkaibus A3516 goes from Moyua Plaza to Mungia and terminates at Palado station in Mungia. The ride will take a little over half an hour.
The bus stop to catch the A3516 is located in front of the Levi's store in Moyua Plaza. If you are standing at the fountain in the middle of the plaza and look towards the Iberdrola tower, the Levi's store is in the building to the right of the tower. This bus will take you directly to Mungia without the need to transfer. Pay attention to the stops listed on the overhead of the bus.The Trobika stop 4 (2001) will let you off in front of Matxin Enparantza Plaza.
Matxin Enparantza Plaza
Matxin Plaza is the cultural epicentre of the city. Most of the city's festivals happen here, as do the local markets. The plaza features a stylized letter M monument with the city and Basque flags soaring.
Beside the "M" monument there is a functioning water fountain. This fountain is of historical significance as it is also a monument to the ending of the disputes that were common in the area. Built in 1883 it has two hands engraved on it symbolizing the new era.
Across the plaza is the Andra Mari Church. This old church is an interesting hybrid of the original perimeter walls and a new glass facade that is visually captivating. The weekly Friday market is held in this former place of worship. The doors are usually open so take some time to enjoy the interior architecture.
The city hall is located across the street from the plaza towards the "M" monument. This hall was built in 1927. The architecture is in a Baroque fashion and shows off both strength and beauty. On the back side of the city hall there is the municipal Fronton. Fronton is the name of the court where pelota (jai alai) is played. It is worth checking this one out.
Church of San Pedro
Once you leave city hall and return to the plaza go to the right end. From there you will be able to take in the beauty of the Church of San Pedro. San Pedro has been a part of Mungia for hundreds of years all the way back to the dark ages. The Lords of Butron are buried inside as it was their place of worship.
This temple has been partially rebuilt on numerous occasions. The bell tower gave way and fell into the chapel area destroying much. Parts were blown up during the Spanish civil war in 1937. San Pedro was then rebuilt brick by brick with a relocating of the bell tower and enlarging the footprint of the building.
On the far side of the church is a small park with a fountain and shaded benches. It is a nice place to enjoy the cathedral. Next to this park is the Arch of San Cristobal. You can see an image of the patron saint above the arch, which leads you to the Torrebillela.
Torrebillela is the oldest building in the city of Mungia. Dating back to at least the 15th century this building has faced several updates. The current look was curated during a major renovation that occurred in 1852. This castle is a mixture of neoclassicism, Gothic and Renaissance.
Today, the Torrebillela is a cultural centre. This fortress now houses a library, assembly hall, cinema, and more. It's open to the public everyday, excluding Sunday.
Next to the Castle is Torrebillela Park. This park is a great place to relax and chill. This island park is encapsulated by the Butron Ibaia (River). Ample tree coverage sets a tranquil vibe. There are multiple playgrounds for children to run around. There is even a seasonal restaurant in the park with a patio and a solarium. This is a great place to have a beverage or grab something to nibble while the little humans play.
Mungia is a wonderful place to go for a day trip or perhaps a place to call home. This city of 17 thousand has lots of history. The Matxin Plaza and surrounding areas are a great place to start. The churches, castle, parks and restaurants all provide an excellent experience that is worth your attention. Start in the plaza end feeling satisfied.
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