Church of San Anton Bilbao

Church of San Anton Bilbao – Iglesia de San Anton

Iglesia de San Anton Bilbao is closely connected to the bridge that bears the same name, whose shape over the waters of Bilbao is one of the most recognisable images of the city. This bridge was the first to connect the two banks and along with the church it is one of the stop-off points along The Way of St. James.

Church of San Anton Bilbao is Gothic in style, and although it is not the oldest in the city it is one of the most popular, so much so that it features in Bilbaos coat of arms.

In 1984 it was declared a Building of Cultural Interest and under its foundations are still hidden some remnants of the city wall that Alfonso XI ordered to be built in 1334.

Coming to Bilbao and having the best stay:

Guides and tours in Bilbao

Blessing of the animals

Every 17th January many animals, accompanied by their owners, make the pilgrimage to San Antón Church to be blessed.

Constructed on the banks of the river and very close to Ribera Market, it occupies the site of an ancient fortress that defended the port of Bilbao from external threats and possible flooding.

The church was consecrated in 1433 but was subsequently considered too small and extended. In 1548 a Renaissance façade was constructed with Corinthian columns and sculptures full of iconographic messages. At a later date a balcony facing the square was added.

The current bell tower was built in the 17th century. This Baroque piece of great beauty is topped by a weathercock carved by Geronimo de Argos. See more Catholic shrines and Basilicas in Spain.

See more European Catholic Shrines and pilgrimages

See top 15 Catholic shrines around the world

Choose from a variety of T-shirts - See more...

Inside the Church of San Anton Bilbao, visitors will find three stepped naves, divided into five sections and covered with a ribbed vault. Under the windows that let light flood into the church is an open gallery. Interestingly, the church has no apse and its southern section is chamfered to make way for the waters of the estuary.

The church has three chapels in the Gothic-Renaissance style and two of these are interconnected. Despite losing some of its treasures due to various misfortunes, it still retains some pieces of great interest, such as a Gothic San Antonio, the Plateresque La Piedad altarpiece by Guiot de Beaugrant and a San Antonio de Padua in Rococo style, possibly by Juan Pascual de Mena.

The main altarpiece was the work of the painter Iñaki García Ergüin and the main figure is a crucified Christ in the Hispano-Flemish style. There are also two statues of the apostles St. Peter and St. Paul and two reliefs that were part of an old altarpiece.

The choir, built in the 16th century, houses a Cavaille-Coll organ from 1901. The sculptor Antonio de Alloitiz created the two figures resting under this choir, San Damián and San Cosme, carved in 1664. Visitors can enjoy this beautiful symbol of Bilbao from Monday to Friday, 18:30 to 20:30.

This wonderful temple and its faithful companion, San Antón Bridge, older than the city itself, stand proudly beside the estuary, stamping their serene reflection on its waters.

View hotel deals in Bilbao

Let us remain close in the same prayer! May the Lord bless you abundantly!

History of San Anton Church

Built at the end of the 15th century, the San Anton Church is not Bilbao’s oldest, but it is one of the most typical. Standing on the river bank, close to the La Ribera Market and the former city hall, its history is closely tied to the city’s, to the point that the church is depicted, along with the bridge of the same name, on the city’s coat-of-arms.

Nearly three hundred year before the first church was built on this site, a warehouse stood there, built on a rock next to the ford that the caravans loaded with wool from Castile used to cross the river, along with a small port. When Don Diego López de Haro granted the Municipal Charter to the city in 1300, the old trading exchange was brought into the urban precincts, surrounded by a strong city wall for defence and as flood protections.

The foundations of that city wall have been excavated and you can see them near to the altar, along with the remains of the first church’s chancel. Remains have also been recovered from the old cemetery that was inside the church until the 19th century.

The current church was built in the Gothic style between 1546 and 1548, even though its beautiful frontage is in the Renaissance style and the bell tower is Baroque. The inside is home to interesting works by Luis Paret, Manuel Losada or Guiot de Beaugrant, the author of the wonderful Plateresque altarpiece.

Let us remain close in the same prayer! May the Lord bless you abundantly!

Posted in Europe and Spain