This area shows the growth of trade on the Bilbao river estuary, and more specifically in the city itself, which led it to dominate maritime trade in Bizkaia in the 15th and 16th centuries. The port of Bilbao became the gateway to northern Europe for products from Castile, especially wool, and the point of entry for products travelling in the opposite direction. It was also the main port for the export of iron from Bizkaia, which was held in great renown throughout Europe and the Americas.
From its founding, Bilbao was awarded privileges, prerogatives and tax exemptions that bolstered its commercial development. Other contributory factors included the development of shipbuilding and map-making. The Bilbao river estuary became a favoured area for shipyards, due to the abundant local supplies of wood and iron.
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