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Compared with the districts of Abandoibarra or Casco Viejo, the process of renovation arrived somewhat later in Bilbao la Vieja district of Old Bilbao. However, much more than any other place in the city this colourful and lively neighbourhood is a multiethnic melting pot of all ages and walks of life, with over 100 different languages spoken here thanks to the steady flow of immigration Bilbao has witnessed in recent years.
B I L B A O L A V I E J A
Compared with the districts of Abandoibarra or Casco Viejo, the process ofrenovation arrived somewhat later in Bilbao la Vieja district of Old Bilbao.However, much more than any other place in the city this colourful and livelyneighbourhood is a multiethnic melting pot of all ages and walks of life, withover 100 different languages spoken here thanks to the steady flow ofimmigration Bilbao has witnessed in recent years.
In Bilbao La Vieja artists and artconservationists set up shop alongsidegoldsmiths, Moroccan restaurants,healthcare centres, convents and night clubs.
In addition, the neighbourhood's artisticexpression gives it the freedom to turn LaMerced Church, for example, into BilborockMusic Centre, with multiuse rooms andrehearsal studios all under one roof.
There is also Bilbao Arte on UrazurrutiaStreet, with its exhibition rooms to displaytheir work. This municipal art workshop is
aimed at promoting and offering training toyoung and aspiring artists. The MunicipalCivic Centres on La Cantera and Conde deMirasol Streets respectively, have beencompletely renovated in conjunction with theLa Cantera Square. Indeed, local residentshave been enjoying a wide range of servicesand a pleasant recreation area since 2005.
Further to these improvements, the 2004-2005 academic year saw the inaugurationof a student residence on Las Cortes Streetto bring more young people and culture tothe neighbourhood.
Without a doubt, urban renewal here has hadsignificant psychological and social impact on thearea, best appreciated in the widening of the previouslynarrow Cantalojas Bridge, which spans the railclassification yard. The resulting esplanade hasbreathed new life into this district, highlighted by anoriginal sculpture called La Exorcista. Sculptor ManuelVALDES collaborated with Mario VARGAS LLOSA,the Peruvian writer and Nobel Prize laureate, whopenned a poem especially for the occasion. Onlookerssee a depiction of a woman's head talking to themvia a poem forged into this bronze work in the mannerof “talking sculptures”.