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Abando – The Heart of Bilbao

Home to the Guggenheim Museum, Abando is the commercial and financial centre of Bilbao, Spain, and seen as the heart of the city. It takes up only 0.82 of a square mile on the left bank of the estuary of Bilbao.

Like the rest of the city, Abando has undergone a transformation from its industrial roots to become a centre of services. Previously called San Vicente de Abando, it is one of eight districts in Bilbao.

On the north and east sides, Abando, which is in the province of Vizcaya, is bounded by the city’s river estuary. Sabino Arana Etorbidea street is on the west, and Autonomia Kalea street is on the south.

According to Javier Irizar, co-founder of the real estate firm Immobiliaria Irizar, Abando has no single-family houses, and units in multi-family buildings run, on average, €6,000 to €10,000 (US$6,640 to US$11,060) per square metre.

He said: ‘The first 50 square metres are the most expensive. The additional square metres are priced lower, so a 100-square-metre unit is not double the price of a 50-square-metre unit.’

There are a variety of apartment buildings in Abando of various ages and styles. Some are 100 to 120 years old, and some date from the 1920s. The newer buildings – those that were built in the last 10 years, have amenities like parking spaces and storage rooms, though there are not many of these new buildings.

With only a couple of newer buildings having 20 or more stories, Abando is fairly low-rise, with most of the buildings only six to eight stories high.

According to market analyst Mark Stücklin, the owner of the real-estate property information company Spanish Property Insight, what makes Abando appeal to both Spanish and overseas property investors alike is that the neighbourhood’s shops and businesses are all within walking distance of its residential streets, making it the perfect place for a luxury lifestyle.

He said: ‘Abando is Bilbao’s answer to Barcelona’s Eixample district,” he said. “It was developed around the same time, at the turn of the previous century. Like the Eixample, the layout is rational and geometric, in contrast to the higgledy-piggledy Old Town with its maze of narrow alleys. The river boundary to the north and east, with its riverfront promenade, offers space and water as a natural element that enhances life in the district.’

Abando also has an abundance of stellar restaurants and interesting high-end shops.

Mr. Irizar said. ‘Basque culture is intimately linked to food, and in Abando, you have great gastronomic offerings, from the famous ‘pintxos,’ which are small bites of very elaborate dishes, to several restaurants with several Michelin stars. The important thing for the visitor who has a very small budget is that for less than €15, you can eat fantastically in many places.’

He added: ‘Everyone in Bilbao goes out for drinks – either wine or beer – with friends. The bars serve pintxos – small snacks such as ham or chorizo served with bread and olives on tiny plates. A Basque tradition, they are something like tapas.’

For those with a larger appetite and budget, there are several Michelin-star restaurants, including Nerua, the seafood and vegetable restaurant in the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao that is No. 32 on the list of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants; and Atelier Etxanobe, which serves contemporary cuisine rooted in traditional recipes.

Abando also still has a number of traditional shops that have been in the neighbourhood since the early 20 century.

Overseas property investors looking for a luxury Basque lifestyle need look no further than Abando.

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