Commercial Port

Fragmentos Exposición Puerto Comercial Itsasmuseum

This area shows the growth of trade on the Bilbao river estuary, and more specifically in the city itself, which led it to dominate maritime trade in Bizkaia in the 15th and 16th centuries. The port of Bilbao became the gateway to northern Europe for products from Castile, especially wool, and the point of entry for products travelling in the opposite direction. It was also the main port for the export of iron from Bizkaia, which was held in great renown throughout Europe and the Americas.

From its founding, Bilbao was awarded privileges, prerogatives and tax exemptions that bolstered its commercial development. Other contributory factors included the development of shipbuilding and map-making. The Bilbao river estuary became a favoured area for shipyards, due to the abundant local supplies of wood and iron.

Would you like to hear this story in more detail? Visit us!

Stand-out exhibits

17th century nautical chart. Bay of Biscay. Attributed to Hendrick Doncker, 1661.

Half-hull models by Antonio de Gaztañeta

Scale model of a galleon.

Other permanent exhibitions