Saving The Nervión River of Bilbao ~ by Lurtan Nikolas Ezkurdia & Barrika Surf Camp


This is a great story of how a river was destroyed by heavy industry but with some political will, transformed it and it is once again breathing life back into the city.


– Filmed and edited by Georgia Schofield


This weekend we will witness some of the biggest names in paddleboard racing going head to head at the Bilbao World SUP Challenge for the first of event The Paddle League‘s The Euro Tour “Triple Crown of Majors”.

This is truly an amazing story of transformation from an industrial city that is now a modern cosmopolitan – where the waterways are no longer polluted and have morphed into our playground with events such as this.


It is not all disappear, there is still hope ~ we just need a change of mindset and political will to do so!



From A Grey Industrial City To A Modern Cosmopolitan – by Esti Eguren, Basque Country native


During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries Bilbao grew up around the industry – the steel industry in particular – and shipbuilding. Thus, Bilbao became one of the most important ports in Europe, a point of connection with major European cities, and from where products such as oil and refined petroleum were transported, as well as raw materials such as iron ore and carbon.

In 1973 an economic crisis seriously affected the industry, in order to revitalise the economy, improve the quality life of its inhabitants and rejuvenate the city as a centre of services they came up with a rehabilitation plan.

In 1983 terrible floods destroyed many parts of the city and its recovery was one of the great achievements of the plan. Nowadays, the Old Town is a tourist space that preserves the traditions and signs of identity of the city.

In 1992 with the creation of Bilbao Ría 2000 (Society for the Urban Regeneration of Bilbao and its surroundings) to recover the degraded zones and industrial areas, elaborating projects of transport improvement, urbanism and environment. Together with this society, Bilbao Metro has been a determining factor for the metamorphosis of Greater Bilbao.

The great emblem of this “New Bilbao”, is the Guggenheim Museum, designed by Frank Gehry but there have been more factors that have contributed to the regeneration and deep change. Over 25 years, Bilbao has been changing its industrial parts and renovating emblematic areas to transform the city into an icon of services, tourism and culture.

In addition to the Guggenheim, Bilbao adds to its urban transformation, the environmental one with the recovery of the river, soul of the town, silent witness of its history, the axis of communication and commerce. The cost of this operation has been about 6 times greater than the construction of the Guggenheim Museum and has been financed through an increase in Water Rates. The sanitation of these waters has allowed Bilbao and its people to live with their homes and offices looking onto the picturesque river. Today the urban projects built along the river have transformed Bilbao into one of the most sophisticated spaces in Europe, where buildings and works of the best architects and artists of the world are featured, one can experience magnificent riverside walks where you can also enjoy many leisure activities, sports and culture.

The strategic project of the transformation of Bilbao is now considered finished with the completion of the new bridges, the metro, the airport and the tram. Many of them designed by great architects (Norman Foster, Santiago Calatrava …), constitute an excellent mobility network that connects Bilbao and its neighbourhoods with neighbouring communities and the international arena.

But the regeneration does not end here and they are already undertaking new works in the peninsula of Zorrozaurre, now turned into an island. The architect Zaha Hadid signs the plan and many world-renowned architects will leave their mark too.