After we immersed ourselves a bit in traditional Valencia and learned about the 10-kilometer-long park born out of the redirected Túria River, we visited the exuberant Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències. The City of Arts and Sciences blooms in the old river bed. This extraordinary futuristic cultural center dazzles.
There’s a diversity of facilities of the City or Arts and Sciences: an opera house, science museum, planetarium, IMAX cinema, oceanographic aquarium, convention hall, botanic garden, and open-air concert venue.
We can only judge by what we witnessed on one warm day in late May, but the complex is alive and popular. Tourists like us wandered about. There was also a large gathering of what looked like a celebratory event of young folks with various disabilities. So, the complex functions as part of the local community, not only a visitor draw. A study in 2017 reported that The City of Arts and Sciences generated 111 million euros for the Valencian economy and supported 3,461 jobs. ※
That’s all well and good, but we simply found all the plazas and gardens and buildings vivid, unique and entrancing. It was a great pleasure just to stroll about, take too many photos, and enjoy this place.
Valencia engaged the internationally celebrated Catalonian architect-engineer Santiago Calatrava to masterplan and design most of The City of Arts and Sciences. Construction on the first component, the Hemisfèric, began in 1996; the most recent building, the Àgora opened in 2009.
Over the years, we’ve visited a few of Calatrava’s projects in various parts of the world. His combination of audacious engineering with fantastic biological forms is never timid!
The rest of this post is mostly images of the buildings and spaces of the complex, with a little background info thrown in. We hope you’ll enjoy this little visit.
Hemisfèric … represents a huge human eye, the eye of wisdom. This symbolises the observation of the world that visitors discover by means of surprising audiovisual projections, [including planetarium, laserium and IMAX cinema].
This is the first section in the City of Arts and Sciences that was opened to the public, on the 16th April 1998. It has an ovoidal roof over 100 metres long within a large sphere that houses the projection hall.
The inner area includes the “Carl Sagan” Perimeter Ring which was named in honour of the great American communicator. It is an oval or elliptic area that surrounds the dome of the projection hall and is protected by the large roof of the building.
An ornamental lake of 24,000 metres square surrounds this structure.
The projection hall, which can hold over 300 people, has a concave screen with a surface area of 900 square metres and a diameter of 24 metres. (source)
Museu de les Ciències
The diversity of interactive exhibitions and the numerous activities of dissemination that have been carried out at the Museu have helped to make it a great success with members of the public, who have responded enthusiastically to its bid to disseminate science and technology from an amusing and entertaining viewpoint without forgetting the scientific precision necessary when approaching the subjects treated.
The Museu de les Ciències has a building area of over 42,000 square metres, of which 26,000 square metres are for exhibitions.
In the Museu building, architecture, engineering and art have a close relationship, both with the world of science and technology and with several basic principles: simplicity of approach and elegance of architectural forms. Hence, in the Museu building, the contents and the container achieve an overall coherence. (source)
The Umbracle, a place to stroll and relax, is presented as a showcase where art and nature combine to create a peaceful and welcoming space in which to view sculptures surrounded by numerous plant species.
It is inhabited by the following autochthonous species which change their form and colour through the seasons. The careful distribution of the flowers gives them a delicate chromatic harmony, with red, yellow, orange, violet, and white predominating.
The garden is surrounded by 80 palm trees, 29 bitter orange trees, varieties of shrubs from the Region of Valencia such as cistuses, mastics, buddleia, pampas grass, and plumbagos; plants of Beauty of the Night; climbing plants including honeysuckle; carpet plants such as lantana, and a hundred aromatic plants such as rosemary and lavender. (source)
Palau de les Arts
[The Palau de les Arts] was inaugurated in 2005 and is equipped with the most modern technologies to constitute an avant-garde and modern space, which is the cultural catalyst that has placed the Region of Valencia, with its centenary musical tradition, in a privileged position among all other world regions.
The innovative architecture of this 40.000 square metre building — 75 metres high –, accommodates four venues for opera, music, ballet and theatre.
The roof or “feather” is the most spectacular structural element and is 230 metres long and more than 70 m high, The two “shells” that embrace the building on the outside are of laminated steel and weigh some 3,000 tons; they have a ceramic covering on the outside. The maximum outer dimensions of the building, taking into account its curved shapes, are 163 m long and 87 m wide. (source)
[The Àgora Caixaforum holds] multipurpose classrooms, an auditorium, family and educational spaces, a bookstore, and a restaurant. CaixaForum provides an array of very diverse and versatile cultural offerings. From art expositions, lecture series, concerts and shows, social seminars, even family and education workshops designed for all ages. It also has a bookstore and a restaurant. (source)
Just a couple more…