Bilbao, a city for the films
Bilbao has witnessed many shootings of national and international series and films. In the coming sections we will tell you about the locations that directors have chosen in the capital of Bizkaia.
If the seventh art is your passion, in Bilbao you will find places that will make you feel like you are in the films. You will enjoy spectacular locations, impressive framings and attractive atmospheres that are well worth a visit. No matter what genre or camera angle you prefer, there is something for everyone.
From Calle Alameda de Mazarredo, where Pierce Brosnan jumped out of a fifth floor apartment in The World Is Not Enough, to the centrally located Abando - Indalecio Prieto station, whose platforms have been witness to several film shoots. Lights, camera, action!
Bilbao in three acts
The World Is Not Enough
Pierce Brosnan played James Bond in the film "The World Is Not Enough", and in one scene he hung from the fifth floor of number 63, Calle Alameda Mazarredo, before landing on the pavement and walking with his briefcase over the La Salve bridge, with the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao as the backdrop. The iconic museum, designed by Canadian architect Frank O. Gehry, is guarded by the floral sculpture known as Puppy, created by the artist Jeff Koons, which is an added attraction. Puppy is a 12.4-metre-tall representation of a dog that has seen almost 25 million people passing by it over the past 25 years.
The majestic Arabic Hall in Bilbao Town Hall is the starting point for shooting involving more than seventy locations in Bizkaia. It is in this hall where we can see Itziar Ituño, who plays the candidate for mayor of our capital. This series has been a great success on Netflix, being watched more than 30 million times in its second week of release, making it the most watched non-English series on the platform and the eighth most watched worldwide, only beaten by titles such as "Stranger Things" and "Peaky Blinders".
Crime Wave (Ola de crímenes)
The film Crime Wave, directed by Gracia Querejeta and starring Maribel Verdú and Antonio Resines, was filmed between the Zubizuri Bridge and the Olabarri Palace. It is impossible not to notice the imposing Iberdrola Tower, designed by the architect César Pelli, which is the eighth tallest building in Spain. In another comedy, "García & García", directed by Ana Murugarren and starring José Mota and Pepe Viyuela, you can also see this tower. The film won an award at the 2021 Malaga Film Festival and has been so successful that it already has a sequel.
The Platform (El Hoyo)
The film "The Platform", directed by Bilbao-born director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia, had great success worldwide, winning four awards at the Sitges Festival, a Goya Award and the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Festival. This film was shot in an industrial building in Punta Zorroza, on the edge of the estuary and on the premises of the former headquarters of Harino Panadera in the Irala neighbourhood of Bilbao. The Zorroza pavilion, where the film was shot, is located in an area that has housed port facilities and companies since the beginning of the 20th century. Just opposite, across the estuary, is the island of Zorrotzaurre, also a former factory that is being renovated to create housing, technology parks, sustainable business headquarters and green areas.
In the film "Giant", actor Eneko Sagardoy plays Miguel Joaquín Eleizegi, a man born in 1818 in Altzo, Gipuzkoa, known for his great height of 2.42 metres, who became very popular and travelled around half of Europe being exhibited before illustrious figures such as Queen Isabella II of Spain and Queen Victoria of England. The film was a great success and received several awards including 10 Goyas out of thirteen nominations, two awards at the San Sebastian International Film Festival and was also very well received in its cinema release and its run on Netflix.
Giant was filmed in several locations in Bilbao, one of these being the back of the Palace of the Provincial Council of Bizkaia on Bilbao’s Gran Vía, where the main character is seen walking alongside a carriage on a snowy day. The Palace, built in 1900, is an example of eclectic architecture and has an impressive archway measuring 15 metres high and 10 metres in diameter at the back, which is used as a frame for the scene that is supposed to simulate a London street.
Four’s a Crowd (El cuarto pasajero)
In the comedy "Four’s a Crowd", directed by Bilbao-born director Álex de la Iglesia, the main characters walk through Ensanche, the commercial and financial centre of Bilbao, where the iconic Gran Vía is located. In the plot, Julián, a 50-year-old divorced man, decides to use an app to share his car on a journey to Madrid. One of the people he shares the car with is Lorena, who is waiting for him in the elegant and cosmopolitan Don Federico de Moyúa Plaza.
70 Big Ones (70 binladens)
The Bilbao Metro is one of the city’s main attractions. Opened in 1995, it has 49.16 km of tracks and 49 stations on three lines. The urban design by British architect Norman Foster was based mainly on steel, concrete and glass to create a spacious and comfortable structure. Entrances to the different stations can be found all over the city and their interiors can be seen in the film 70 Big Ones, in which the main character reflects on a bank robbery in Alonsotegi, a town near Bilbao. Koldo Serra’s film offers views of Bilbao (La Salve Bridge with the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao as the backdrop and the Campo Volantín) and of Getxo (Arrigunaga and La Galea) in its ending.
Off the Rails (Descarrilados)
Abando-Indalecio Prieto station is one of the most iconic places in Bilbao. It has an impressive iron vault and an interior stained glass window measuring 15 metres wide and 10 metres high, made of 301 artistic pieces with motifs depicting the life and customs of the city. It has been used in several films, such as "Off the Rails", which tells the story of the adventures of the main characters on their inter-rail journey, and "When You No Longer Love Me".
Two Many Chefs (La vida padre)
Bilbao’s Old Town is one of the most iconic places in the city. It is the oldest and most historic neighbourhood, with streets full of history and life that form one of the largest open-air shopping centres on the Cantabrian coast. The heart of Bilbao is home to the city’s oldest churches and monuments and is the setting for many scenes in the film "Two Many Chefs", a comedy starring Karra Elejalde and Enric Auquer, in which gastronomy is the main theme.
Joaquín Mazón’s film takes place in iconic locations such as the Arriaga Theatre, one of the most important theatres in Spain and one of the most outstanding buildings in the city. Opened in 1890, it is in a Baroque Revival style from the end of the 19th century. It was designed by the architect Joaquín de Rucoba and named after the Bilbao-born composer Juan Crisóstomo de Arriaga, known as the “Spanish Mozart”. In August, from the central balcony of its main façade, the “txupin” (rocket) is launched to mark the start of the Aste Nagusia or Great Week of Bilbao.
La línea invisible
La Ribera Market is an essential stop in the Old Town. It is one of the largest covered food markets in Europe and offers fresh and delicious local produce. Just across the estuary is Bilbao la Vieja, the oldest neighbourhood in the city. It is known for being the most multicultural area of Bilbao, with unique designer shops, independent bookshops, beauty salons, innovative restaurants and art spaces. Part of the series “La línea invisible” was filmed in these streets and tells the story of the first ETA bombing and how it shaped the next 50 years of Spanish history.
Victim Number 8 (La víctima número ocho)
The series Victim Number 8 tells the story of a fictitious jihadist attack in the historic centre of Bilbao, known as Siete Calles (Seven Streets). The chase involving the character known as Omar and the agent Koro takes place in the streets of the Old Town, passing iconic places such as the Cathedral Basilica of Santiago, built in the 15th century in a Gothic style and renovated several times, the last time being in 2000, and home to the diocese of Bilbao since 1949.
The Invisible Guest (Contratiempo)
La Paloma is the popular name for Bilbao airport, due to its peculiar design, the work of the architect Santiago Calatrava. Located 12 kilometres from the city centre, it has been the setting for films such as "Garcia & Garcia" and "The Invisible Guest". Its terminal is one of the most important scenes in Ana Murugarren’s comedy. The main characters (Pepe Viyuela and José Mota) arrive at the terminal.