The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #98


A reader writes:

Was that picture taken in Alexandria, VA, just southwest of Old Town from the booming Carlyle/Eisenhower Avenue neighborhood? If I had to guess, I'd say the picture was taken through a window from within the US Patent and Trade Office (or one of the many nearby condo complexes), given the apparent height of the shot. It looks like I can see the George Washington Masonic Temple in the background.

Another writes:

The storefronts and style of buildings, the quality of the lighting, the hills in stretching up in the background, and the minaret (I think?) remind me of central Amman, Jordan. No idea whereabouts. The buildings stretching up and down the hills make Amman particularly beautiful at night.

Another also guesses Amman:

If it is, you're likely to have 500 guesses – and the location is likely easy, but I'm sure by now someone has gotten it right.

The number of entries was actually closer to 25 – the lowest ever, making this contest one of the most difficult yet. Another reader:

Paris! My mom live is one those high rises, the few built within the city limits in the '70s. It's next to Jaures metro in the 19th.


Valencia, Spain? Sometimes you just have to guess.  It looks European and southern, since the trees have full foliage. The church steeple could be Spanish.  But really, I'm just guessing.

Good guess – correct country. Another nails the right city:

Bilbao, Spain! I recognize that cathedral and adjacent apartment blocks. My wife and I were there last April, to celebrate our anniversary. We met quite near where I think this picture was taken – I remember there being quite a few foreigners around, as well, for a city with tons of local flavor. I also remember babies, being held aloft to poop in forsaken plots of land, as we traversed the lolling city blocks in search of a ferret shop. We had heard that Bilbao was good for ferret shopping, but actually we never found one! Anyway, if that isn't Bilbao, poo poo.

Another sends an aerial image:


Another reader:

For me the key clue was the little red painted ad on the wall, which looked like a Dia supermarket. Other parts of the image said Spain, and then I realized the building center right was the city's bullring.  And since not that many Spanish cities have big buildings, I knew it was a bigger city.  So I stated image searching for particular bullrings, and this one looks like Bilbao's.  It has what appear to be crests or coats of arms on the white panels.


I recognized this instantaneously. Even though I only wandered past the bullring once while visiting Bilbao, it was just obvious right away. And I was also only there for a night – odd. But there was something distinctive about Bilbao, and all of Basque country in general. An awesome place.


Well, I've been living abroad for more than 16 years now and I must confess that it took me a while to recognize my hometown, Bilbao, the biggest city in the Basque Country, Spain. Here we're just overlooking Vista Alegre Arena, the city's bullring, which was built in 1882 and where Ernest Hemingway found some inspiration. I am not much of an aficionado (bullfighting fan) myself. For me, being there once was more than enough. Precisely identifying the street and number is going to be more difficult, though, because there have been a lot of new developments in that area recently. I'll go for the Santiago Brouard Street, near the Amézola Square.

Correct street. The winner was the only reader to guess the exact window:


This is looking out on to the Plaza de Toros de Vista Alegre from the building on the corner of Calle de Santiago Brouard and Calle Dolores Ibárruri in Bilbao, Spain. The building in the immediate foreground is circular, and screams, "arena".  And it appears open-air and small.  I couldn't get bullfighting ring out of my head despite having no experience or interest in it beyond reading Hemingway.  This thought persisted despite it not matching anything that came up on Google images.  Wikipedia came to the rescue with a list of "Bullrings of the world". Luckily I only had to go to the fifth one on the list.  It is actively used for bullfighting, and in the summer of 2010, 54 bulls were killed in Bilbao.

Details from the submitter:

The very top left window, the 6th European floor or the 7th American floor (they consider the ground floor 0, not 1).

Last semester I was studying abroad in Bilbao, Spain, living in a homestay with a pretty odd 44-year-old single guy. He had a nice place, listened to good music, and fed me well, but was really closed minded and hated the internet for some reason.  He was also really into organic food and every week his brother would come by and deliver us fresh vegetables from their dad's garden, so that was nice, me being a nutrition major and all.

I was basically there to learn Spanish quick-like and to have an adventure. I studied at the University of Deusto, which is pretty big on international exchanges, and it was used to helping international students like me with whatever I had trouble with (lots of things, because I didn't speak Spanish very well when I arrived.) I had some early classes, hence the picture of the sun rising over the bull ring there, but overall enjoyed Bilbao despite its smelliness (it's a pretty industrial place even though the government is trying to make it greener, it used to be a huge commercial port, but where the docks used to be is now the Guggenheim and a park).

One more entry:

I am a proud winner of the contest about a year ago (Cullera, Spain), so I am not really trying to get my entry into the contest this time.

Still, I could not refrain from writing to you, since the picture is from the city where I was born and raised. It took me about two seconds to think "Spain" and then about twenty more seconds to realise it was actually Bilbao. It is funny how every time you include an image from urban Spain, either for the contest or the daily VFYW section, it has some difficult to describe air of familiarity. The same happens to me with Italy (the picture the other day from Rome was also crying out "Italy" before I read the caption). I guess people from other countries have the same kind of impressions when they see their cities.

What we see in the picture is sunrise at the Plaza Ametzola, with the Vista Alegre Bullring to the right and the white towers at Plaza Zabalburu in the back. My guess is that it was taken from the sixth or seventh floor of the building at the corner of the streets of  Santiago Brouard  and Dolores Ibarruri (Kalea is Basque for "calle", i.e. street, as you may have imagined).

Bullfighting is quite popular in Bilbao, with corridas being part of the programme of the Semana Grande (or Aste Nagusia, in Basque), the week-long fiesta that takes place every year at the end of August. There are also many people who dislike them, of course, not only for humanitarian reasons, but also for their association with Spain, and particularly Andalusia and Southern Spain, with all its associated stereotypes of backwardness, conservatism, poverty, dependence on welfare.

For the time being the enemies of bullfighting have not been very vocal in the Basque Country, but in Catalonia, as you may know, bullfighting has been recently outlawed, with a lot of controversy in other parts of Spain. The new conservative government in Madrid has actually made some noise in the direction of fixing this with some kind of regulation from the central government, giving bullfighting some kind of "cultural good" protection. This would certainly create a row in Catalonia, so I hope Rajoy is clever to let things stay the way they are now. We have enough problems. 

Ok. Enough. Thank you for posting the picture from Bilbao. It was fun.

P.S. I hope you do not mind that I made a click on the Facebook "I like it" button, so I may have prompted some not regular readers (some of them from Bilbao) to see the picture. Maybe some of them decide to participate, which I am not quite sure that fits the purpose of the contest. But I hope they won't.