Visits included in Bilbao Town Council´s “Bilbao Izan” program
The Port Authority of Bilbao Central Office, known as the Olabarri Palace, is an architectural gem built in the late XIX century, which still arouses popular interest. In May, this singular building received 1,454 visits from 55 different groups as part of the “Bilbao Izan” (Know Bilbao in Basque) programme promoted by the Bilbao Town Council’s Department of Culture to make known the town’s history and heritage.
The guided visits were programmed for May only, and in principle, from Tuesdays to Saturdays both in the mornings and the afternoons. However, they were so successful that they were extended to include Mondays as well.
This remarkable palace, one of the few residential buildings conserved in the area, catches the eye for the original elements it still conserves. During the hour and a half-long visits the building was placed in its historical context the help understand its location and also its design. Similarly, details were given about the Olabarri family, who lived there, as well as about how the space was divided for domestic use. What was previously used as the dining and/or billiards rooms is now occupied by offices and the boardroom.
More than a century of history
In the second half of the XIX century, Bilbao experienced great
economic growth, and the surroundings of the elegant Campo Volantin Promenade became a district where small palaces and stately mansions with their gardens were built. The Olabarri “hotel” shows the splendour of the town’s golden age. This is an example of the type of dwelling of the Bilbao bourgeoisie in the late XIX and early XX centuries, and is considered to be one of architect Julian Zubizarreta’s most representative works. The building, a testimony of the XIX century architectural styles, was built in 1894 as the family home of Jose Maria Olabarri, an important business man of the time. Since 1953, the building has belonged to the Port Authority of Bilbao.