Leisure and sport

Fragmento de la Exposición sobre Ocio y Deporte en la Ría de Bilbao en Itsasmuseum

Economic growth in the late 19th and early 20th centuries brought with it a growing culture of leisure among the well-off, and the Bay of Biscay coast became the summer home of the monarchy and the new middle classes. The El Abra bay near Bilbao became a major resort area based on sea bathing, spas and water sports such as rowing and sailing.

It was against this background that clubs such as the Real Sporting de Bilbao and the Club Marítimo del Abra were founded (in 1989 and 1902, respectively) as venues where the new wealthy middle classes could gather socially. Sailing races were organised from the earliest days, but especially from the 1940s onwards. Light vessels such as the Star and Snipe classes were especially popular.

Races between the Basque rowing boats known as traineras grew out of competition between rival fishing crews. The desire to be the first to reach the fish led to fierce competition between them. Crews thus began to take each other on competitively. These races were mainly shows of strength, and were arranged to settle disputes. Gradually, rules were drawn up and rowing races became a highly popular official sport. In 2009 women also began to compete in the top category of trainera fixed-bench rowing.


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Stand-out exhibits

Trainera rowing boat.

The Saltillo felucca

The As de Copas

Other permanent exhibitions