With its unique culture, traditions and history, Spain’s third largest city, Valencia is undoubtedly an authentic city of arts and sciences. It’s not surprising that exactly this sunny city hosts one of Europe’s greatest cultural centers, known as “The City of Arts and Sciences”. This is an architectural complex comprising cultural institutions, as well as entertainment-based buildings, which has turned into the calling card of modern Valencia. It’s like a modern city within an ancient one, which skillfully manages to transmit all the energy and history of Valencia. The innovational style of the buildings is the main characteristics of the City of Arts and Sciences.
You’ll be surprised how an opera house can look so modern and fresh in comparison with other buildings that serve for the same purpose in other parts of the world. Though the buildings are mainly cultural or scientific centers, they look like a spaceport from a sci-fi movie. The fantastic contrast with the historical part of Valencia makes you believe that you are in an entirely different city for a second.
The City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia is a huge architectural complex located near the city center, along the riverbed of the Turia River, which has dried away turning into a beautiful park, where both the locals and tourists like to hang out. On its vast territory covering around an area of two miles, the complex hosts Europe’s largest aquarium, a dolphinarium, a planetarium, an interactive science museum and the Palace of Arts. The attraction comprises the following main buildings:
Opened to public in April of 1998, this is the first building in the entire complex. Hemispheric is an outstanding achievement of modern Spanish architecture. This huge glass bubble is integrated harmoniously into the landscape. The carcass resembles an eye with eye lips, which can open no matter how weird this sounds. No wonder, it’s also called the “eye of knowledge” (el ojo de la sabiduría). A 3D cinema and the Planetarium are the main attractions here along with the IMAX cinema and Laserium. By the way the access is via underground.
El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe
This building completely reflects the exceptional creative power of the architect Santiago Calatrava. Opened in 2000, the building was designed completely around nature, having quite the resemblance with the skeleton of a whale. Experience-based learning would never be so fun if museums of such kind wouldn’t have offered a variety of interactive exhibits. Touching exponents is not forbidden in this museum, so the place is perfect for family visits with your kids. It’s a well-known fact that the children enjoy touching everything that seems interesting, so the first floor with its “Children Space” won’t disappoint them.
The entire building is subdivided into three floors, of which the ground floor known as Minor Street (Calle Menor) is dedicated to public services, including restaurants, shops and ticket offices. Other than that, you can discover the interesting “Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archeology” exhibition on the ground floor. While on the first floor of the building various workshops and science exhibitions are organized (like “Exploratorium” and “L’Espai dels Xiquets”), the second floor is all about the exhibition of “The Legacy of Science.” Further, you’ll discover the majestic “Chromosome Forest” exhibition on the third floor, learning a lot about human DNA, as well as the exhibitions of “Marvel Superheroes”, “Zero Gravity” and “Space Academy”.
El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia
Opened back in 2005, the Palace of Arts consist of four main halls, which are the Main Hall, the Master Hall, the Auditorium and the Martin y Soler Theatre. The embodiment of modern architecture, which is meant to serve as an opera house mostly, has become a world recognized international venue for performing art, music, ballet and opera. It’s an excellent venue, which promotes culture in its many dimensions. This architectural masterpiece is the work of Santiago Calatrava. Due to the excellent program it offers, this opera house can easily compete with such cultural giants as Sydney or London opera houses. Its incredible design and sheer size look so futuristic that a desire to take photos of every inch is quite normal.
Can you imagine how large an oceanographic park should be to house more than 45.000 animal and marine species, including dolphins, sea lions, beluga whales, walruses, seals, penguins, turtles, sharks, rays, jellyfish, starfish, sawfish, sea urchins and many more?
That sounds fantastic! But even a more surprising fact about this complex is that it has 11 buildings under the waters of the central lake, each of which represents certain aquatic environments, such as the Mediterranean, Wetlands, Temperate and Tropical Seas, Oceans, the Antarctic, the Arctic, Islands and the Red Sea. The oceanographic aquarium is surrounded by a variety of gardens and is a perfect place for research.
It boasts a wonderful Dolphinarium and examples of flora and fauna of marine ecosystems from around the world. It’s the largest oceanographic aquarium in Europe, where you’ll need an entire day to spend to explore the interesting lifestyles of various fish. No wonder, it’s the most interesting and exciting department in the entire complex, and it will take you an entire day to discover all the marine species.
Functioning since 2009, this multifunctional building hosts concerts, exhibitions, sports events and even Christmas Programs. The appearance of the building resembles a weird marine animal with blue scales. From an architectural viewpoint, it’s a masterpiece, which is really worth visiting. From the functional point of view, it is mainly for tennis tournaments or sport competitions.
If the art gallery of contemporary sculptures isn’t exactly your thing, you can walk through palm trees or colorful aromatic plants like rosemary or lavender. No one will deny the immense power of Mother Nature to relax and take to another reality. The transition from nature to architecture is done gradually replacing the alley of palm trees with a long walkway that is actually the gateway to the town.
The general admission fees of the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia are as follows: 8.80 € per adult for Hemisfèric, 8 € per adult for Science Museum, 27.90 € per adult for Oceanogràfic, while there are also discounts for large adult groups. You can buy the tickets both online and at the ticket offices. Website: cac.es
If not the vibrant and colorful city of Valencia, its symbol – the City of Arts and Sciences will definitely leave the most colorful and unforgettable impressions on you. So make this lively city your next travel destination and discover the fun of this picturesque sight!