The Ciudad de las Artes y la Ciencias (“City of Arts and Sciences“) is a huge architectural complex that rises from the old bed of the Turia river in Valencia, Spain.
The 350,000 square meters (~3,790,000 sq.ft) of this modern center are dedicated to the promotion of scientific knowledge and cultural activities.
This futuristic project by the starchitects Santiago Calatrava and Felix Candela was started at the beginning of the Nineties and follows the principles of organic architecture in its attempt to harmonize the artificial elements of mankind with the natural ones of the immediate surroundings.
The result has an impressive visual impact which is enhanced by the play of the reflections of the white buildings in the surrounding huge blue ponds.
At night, the lights reflecting in the water help creating a fantastic atmosphere.
The Reina Sofia Palace of Arts represents a ship that comes from the sea and runs ashore on the bed of the Turia river. This very peculiar building is 75m tall (246ft) and hosts four theatres including the Valencia Opera. The panoramic elevators stop at different heights allowing the space to be observed from different angles.
Visits of this building are prohibited during the performances (operas, concerts, ballets, zarzuelas), therefore checking the calendar of events in advance would be a good idea.
The Hemisferic was the first building to be opened to the public in 1998. It’s shaped as a gigantic human eye and can be perceived in its entirety thanks to the perfect reflection on the surface of the surrounding water mirror.
Inside, visitors can enjoy their time at the Planetarium and at the largest 3D IMAX Movie Theater in Spain (thanks to a concave screen with the diameter of 24 meters/79ft).
The Umbracle is 320 meters long (1050 ft) and 60 meters wide (197 ft) and contains cars and buses. Yes! It’s the parking garage of the whole complex, but it offers much more! Its upper part is occupied by a wooden promenade made of teak and embellished by a wooded garden full of palms, orange trees, honeysuckles and bougainvilleas. The many sculptures that line this promenade have earned it the name of Paseo de las Esculturas (The Walk of the Sculptures), while 55 fixed arches and 54 floating ones overshadow it helping the conservation of the flora.
The Prince Felipe Museum of Sciences is probably the most impressive building of the complex with its shape inspired by the skeleton of a giant dinosaur.
The 8,000 square meters (~2 acres!) of each of its three floors host an interactive science museum with a very unusual motto: “it’s forbidden NOT to touch“. A fun paradise for children and adults.
The Oceanografic, with its surface of 110,000 square meters (27 acres) is one the largest oceanographic parks in Europe. Different aquatic environments are represented by more than 45,000 specimens of countless species including sharks, turtles, seals, belugas, Humboldt penguins, clown fish, crocodiles, and starfish. A dolphinarium and a space dedicated to different bird species are also present.
Don’t miss the 70 meters long (230 ft) submarine tunnel and the restaurant where you’ll have the impression of dining at the bottom of the ocean.
Deserving a walk are also the Àgora (a covered plaza used for conventions, concerts and sport events) and the Pont de l’Assut de l’Or (a suspended bridge 180m/590ft long that connects the Àgora to the Museum of Sciences: its 125m/410ft high pillar is the highest point in Valencia).
The Ciudad’s many pubs and restaurants will provide the deserved break and refreshment between a visit to one pavillion and the next.