For three hundred years two institutions dictated the Bilbaino way of life; the Town Hall and the Consulate (1511-1829). Representing the University of maritime contractors and merchants, they controlled all maritime and onshore life, both civil and commercial. This governing body became so important that in the 17th century, Bilbainos had their own Contract House in Brigge, in order to do business in Belgium. The Consulate was dissolved in the 19th century after a Code of Commerce was introduced throughout the State.
So tightly-knit was the collaboration between these institutions that they shared the same building next to the erstwhile church of San Antón.
The integration of Bilbao into the Santiago Way brought new culturaland artistic tendencies into the area, which left its mark on the personality of the city of today. Those pilgrims, travelling along The Way, also brought new sources of income to the Villa.