As though it is made for drawing in crowds who leave St. James’ Cathedral, the Arriaga Theatre is just 400 metres away. This is the jewel in the crown of Bilbao, and you will never meet a Biscayan who isn’t proud of this building. The Arriaga of today first opened its curtains in 1890, offering an alternative to the old ‘Town Theatre’, an 1834 building, which was brought down after having lived through two Carlist wars and the Sieges of Bilbao. The building takes its name from a Bilbao composer, Juan Crisostomo de Arriaga, who is know as the ‘Mozart of Spain’. It survived the Civil War, which is imprinted in it’s façade, and a fire, which called for a complete restoration of the interior. Nonetheless, we do recommend entering to observe the stalls, which are extremely impressive. The bust that presides over the theatre is of its creator, architect Joaquin de Rucoba. Its 1,200 seats below a gold and red stage still witness performances, concerts and first-rate events. Its programme has given the Arriaga Theatre a first-class reputation.
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