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The old quarter of Bilbao

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Las Siete Calles or El Casco Viejo in Spanish or, Zazpikaleak or Alde Zarra in Basque are different names for the medieval neighbourhood of Bilbao. The names mean Seven Streets or Old Town respectively and it used to be the walled part of the town until the end of the 19th century.

The Seven Streets

The name Zazpikaleak or Las Siete Calles (The Seven Streets) come from the oldest part of the neighbourhood which included exactly 7 streets and some much more narrow alleys connecting them, called cantons (kantoi, cantón). The historical seven streets of Bilbao are:

* Somera, “upper”
* Artekale, “middle street”
* Tendería, “shopkeeper’s”
* Belostikale
* Carnicería Vieja, “old butchery”
* Barrenkale, “lower street”
* Barrenkale Barrena, “lower lower street”

The “8th” street is Ronda, which used to be the patrol street outside the walls. Later the town expanded northwards with the construction of the Plaza Berria or Plaza Nueva (new square) and the streets Santa María (“Saint Mary”), Bidebarrieta (“new ways”), Correo (“mail”) and Askao. Nowadays the neighbourhood also includes the Ribera (“riverboard”) street, the Arenal (“sandy place”) Park and Esperanza (“hope”) street as well.

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