Modernity in Bilbao

It is necessary to start from the fact that modernity established new roles between men and women. Family life and working as a community in the rural style had disappeared in all spheres and social classes of urban life.


Regarding modern upper-class men of Bilbao, they acquired a relevant place in the important issues of urban life. They took part in the important modern subjects, whereas women were initially unable to get involved in business, industry, banking, politics, war, peace, etc.

This tendency also reached rural life. Some men used to go to work every day in factories where labour was needed. This also led to a difference in the roles of men and women in rural life.

However, these men continued to be farmers and considered such jobs as an additional source of income.

The Arratia tram, which was a product of the industrial revolution, was the means of transporting these men to their workplaces, introducing new working hours, new tools and new colleagues, many of whom came from other regions in search of a better fortune. This tendency continued throughout the 20th century.

In this climate of change, in the 19th century a feeling of concern spread through the city as a result of modern developments and inventions that were changing the world. Adverts, which appeared in newspapers and publications of the period, promised miraculous remedies for practically everything, all types of wonderful devices and the most innovative services. On the other hand, printed news from abroad awakened curiosity to discover other countries, cultures, inventions, etc. for inspiration.

Undoubtedly, the train was the main feature of the period; bringing the world closer. It transported goods and passengers, paving the way from the surrounding area to far off places at high speed. New images and new perspectives were brought to the people. New paths brought new objectives.

Among the most surprising inventions, the car stood out, due to its social repercussion and the possibilities it offered to travel. New habits and hobbies related to the world of sport were introduced, including driving, as many activities came from abroad. There were as many events and competitions as there were sporting disciplines; bicycle, car and motorbike racing, football, boxing, pelota games, mountaineering, etc. In this respect, it is worth mentioning the creation of the “Sociedad Gimnástica Zamacois” (Zamacois Gymastics Society) (1894) which later became the “Club Deportivo Bilbao” (Bilbao Sports Club) (1912). Training and competition aroused much interest among men.

There were many topics of conversation and discussion around modern issues, which took place in cafeterias, taverns and clubs of the period. In addition to talking about new habits and hobbies, politics and working conditions became key issues to be addressed in these difficult and conflictive times. An unprecedented revolution meant that problems unknown until then had to be faced.

The development of science and scientific methods also spread in our area and, sooner or later, all disciplines had their place in the academic field, mainly through the intellectuals of the period. In this respect, it is worth mentioning the creation of the First Basque Chair in Bizkaia, Eusko Ikaskuntza (1918), Euskaltzaindia (1919) or the revival of the “Sociedad Bascongada de Amigos del País” (“Basque Association of Friends of the Land”). The interest and the desire to study Basque was reborn.

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