Bilbao’s Gothic Cathedral, dedicated to Saint James, was originally built as the city’s parish church during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. It was only concecrated as a cathedral in 1950 after the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bilbao had been officially created.
It has a Latin cross plan with three naves, separated by cylindrical pillars, which lead to the main chapel, the Presbytery. This was remodelled in 2000 and has a simple layout, containing the bishop’s seat and the altar, which is presided over by a late Gothic figure of Christ dating from around 1515. The Presbytery is surrounded by an ambulatory which gives access to fifteen chapels, all originally financed by wealthy parishioners, many containing ornate baroque altarpieces. The Chapel of San Antón contains a magnificent polychrome carving of the saint from the fifteenth century, as well as the tomb of the Arbieto family of merchants from Bilbao.
Presbytery, Bilbao Cathedral
Chapel of San Antón
The cathedral also contains an impressive cloister, again in the Gothic style. It has a central garden surrounded by four vaulted bays, around which there are several tombstones from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Cloister, Bilbao Cathedral