Keeping watch over Gran Via and the San Mames Stadium is the Bilbao Sacred Heart of Jesus Monument. This monument was initially a highly controversial issue in the city. It was built thanks to a donation of 50,000 Pesetas by an anonymous member of the Bilbao Prayer Apostolate, on the condition that it was to be built on municipal territory. It is important to remember that at this time, Bilbao was divided into the more conservative aristocracy, who were closer to the Church, and the working class, who were against it. Due to this, the city saw hard times, which turned particularly violent a few years later, with the arrival of the Republic in 1931. Therefore, its inauguration on the 26th of June 1927 brought many people to the streets, some excited about the monument, and the majority protesting against it. Adding fuel to the fire was the fact that the architect was Lorenzo Coullat, a man from Seville who lived in Madrid. Despite being one of the most famous sculptors of the time, people were against him because he wasn’t from the city. The Town Hall archives still hold records of its approval meeting, which almost ended up in a fistfight. Today, it is one of the symbols of the city.
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