If your visit to Bilbao has gotten you into an artistic mood, then embrace that notion with a little theater at the city's Teatro Arriaga. The 19th-century Neo-baroque theater goes easy on the traveler's eyes with an elaborate facade that overlooks the east bank of the Nervión River, and a fancy interior of plush red chairs, golden balconies and ornate crown molding.
This may sound like theater-viewing perfection, but Teatro Arraiga's past hasn't been quite as flawless. Designed by Joaquín Rucoba, the theater was opened in 1890, and dedicated to Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga, considered the Mozart of Spain. Flash forward to 1914, when a fire essentially demolished it, followed by other setbacks, such as its closing for a time during the Civil War. Then came threatening floods in 1983, which inundated the structure to the second floor, closing it once more.
The curtain of course rose again, though, and the intimately sized theater – seating some 1,500 people – has welcomed audiences ever since.
Teatro Arriaga is located on the eastern side of the river, near the Casco Viejo (old quarter). You can get there by foot, bus, tram or metro (stop Casco Viejo, or Abando, but you must cross the river). Consult the website for the schedule and to purchase tickets, which are often quite reasonably priced, with possible discounts available.