In Araba-Álava, Guipuzkoa and Bizkaia there are lots of possibilities to enjoy art. The museums of Euskadi suit all kinds of tastes. These galleries go through different historic periods, from the antiquity to the contemporary era. We encourage you to visit them with us in an ideal route for culture lovers.
Museums of Euskadi in Araba-Álava
We start our route through the museums of Euskadi in the province of Araba-Álava. Our favourites are in Vitoria-Gasteiz. Firstly, we recommend to visit the Museo de Bellas Artes de Vitoria, located in a special environment. It is an old Neo-Renaissance palace from 1912 that has been declared Conjunto histórico-artístico.
On the inside you’ll find an excellent collection of Spanish paintings from the 18th and 19th centuries. There are also lots of pieces of Basque art from 1850 to 1950, a period when painters from Vitoria stood out. Painters such as Carlos de Haes, Ignacio Zuloaga, Darío de Regoyos or Federico de Madrazo are also important in this gallery. Do not miss its wonderful gardens, which are full of animal sculptures.
Our next stop is the Museo Diocesano de Arte Sacro, just 8 minutes on foot from the previous gallery. It is located in the ambulatory of the Cathedral of Vitoria and it is like a window into the past. Interesting collections of sculpture, goldsmithing and painting are exhibited from the Romanesque art to the present.
Finally, among the museums of Euskadi that are located in Vitoria we are going to visit ARTIUM. It is a contemporary art museum that is focused in Basque art. Modernity has always been one of the priorities of Araba-Álava and ARTIUM is an example of that, with its powerful program of avant-garde exhibitions. As a curiosity, most of the works are displayed undergruound.
Museums of Euskadi in Bizkaia
Once we have visited the museums of Euskadi of the province of Araba-Álava, we head to Bizkaia, where it is essential to stand out the Museo Guggenheim, situated in the city of Bilbao. Its construction meant a great boost to the city, which got a well deserved worldwide fame. Going around the Guggenheim surroundings is already an experience. On the inside, you’ll find contemporary art exhibitions that will surely surprise you (even if you like them or not).
If you have already visited this famous museum, we recommend the Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao located a few metres away from the previous one. It is a small gallery with a modern style that also includes some more classical halls with works from the XIII century to our days. The collection has more than 10,000 objects distributed in five big sections: Ancient art, Modern and Contemporary Art, Basque art, works on paper and applied arts.
The last stop of our route through the museums of Euskadi in Bilbao takes us to the Museo Arqueológico e Histórico Vasco. We have chosen this museum because it is the ideal place to discover the origins and the development of the Basque civilization. We recommend to pay attention to special pieces as the ídolo de Mikeldi (a big stone sculpture placed in the patio), the copy of the impressive Kurutziaga cruise ship and the portrait of the magnate Sir Ramón de la Sota (a painting by Ignacio Zuloaga).
To name a slightly different gallery, we head to the town of Galdames, where you’ll stumble upon the Museo de Coches Antiguos y Clásicos. It is located inside a majestic fortress built in the Middle Ages but rebuilt in 1985. There is a 25-metre-high tower (Tower of Loizaga) that is surrounded by different rooms, a moat with a drawbridge and walls. This collection is considered unique in the world, as it contains all the Rolls-Royce models that have ever existed.
Museums of Euskadi in Gipuzkoa
At last, we arrive in the province of Gipuzkoa. Here you’ll find the Museo Balenciaga, in his home town, Getaria. This museum is suitable for everybody, including children. You will enjoy a walk trough the work of the couturier who was a designer ahead of his age. The collection is huge, so clothes are usually changed to protect them from any damage. The visit starts with a 20 minute documentary about Balenciaga’s life, a piece that will help you understand his art.
In San Sebastián-Donosti, the Museo San Telmo stands out. It is situated in Zuloaga Square and there are collections of archeology, ethnology, history, photography and fine arts. Without a doubt, the most remarkable thing is visiting the church of the primary monastery, where you can contemplate the huge murals in which José María Sert captures the Basque history; a masterpiece of worldwide muralism.
Text by Paloma Díaz Espiñeira