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The City of Arts and Sciences
The City of Arts and Sciences is an absorbing futuristic hotspot is Valencia
Don't you dare missing when you're there!
The complex is placed at the southern part of the former Túria riverbed.
Designed by Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela, the City of Arts and Sciences has quickly become iconic to the city of Valencia.
Is this really Planet Earth?
Inauguration happened on April 16th, 1998 with the opening of Hemisfèric, then on October 9th, 2005, the building called El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía was also added to the complex. Step-by-step, more and more buildings were opened to the public.
I reckon, visiting is especially enjoyable for families. There are lots of museums and and even aquariums that children will adore.
To me, the outside design and the park area around were awe-inspiring, including the scenic views of flower plantations with the alien spaceship-like buildings in the background...
By the way, a full ticket at the time of my visit (April 2013) cost 32 euros. I skipped entry.
El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía
This was my favorite buildings. It resembles a spaceship (especially from the front or the rear) or a conquistador helmet (from sideview) or even a prehistoric seashell.
Whatever... it's so surreal and beautiful! Strange beautiful architecture!
It's also huge: has over 200 m in length and a staggering height of 70 m (that's almost 24 stories high).
The building is a performing arts center. It includes an opera house. 4 large opera/theatre/auditorium-type rooms are inside it.
Mini lake that dogs love running across
I approached the City of Arts and Sciences from the northeast and I descended through the park.
Many damaged tiles can be seen on the side of this building. It will require restoration in a few years (my guess!).
Trees grow out of circular pots resembling car tires, toally surrounded by water
The building looks like it's afloat - on the artificial lake.
The Hemisfèric contains an Imax Cinema, a Planetarium and a Laserium. Would you have thought? I was surprised to find out. What you can see is just an entrance to an underground world!
But this shallow lake itself is an attraction.
At first it looked totally wrong - as if the building would have capsized... then it looked like the back of a whale
Arches cover a park of exotic plats, including palms. It also holds modern art sculptures.
When I was there, it was partly closed (for undisclosed reasons that weren't obvious to me at all), but at least I did get a close glimpse of it and managed to walk a few meters under Calatrava's arches.
In fact, this part of the complex reminded me of what I saw at the Athens Olympic Park. A very similar design there as well. (The one in Athens was also designed by Calatrava and there was a shallow lake there as well... seems like he has a "thingie" for lakes like this).
Wicked arches like bones support the Umbracle park-like area
According to the official site of the City of Arts and Sciences, the Umbracle is a "vantage point" from where "all the buildings, lakes, walkways and landscaped areas" of the complex "can be contemplated".
It has a length of 320 m and a width of 60 m.
It's a wonderful green retreat area. I will definitely visit it again when in Valencia! Next time!
Besides palms, it's home to a wide variety of indigenous plants from the Valencia region
El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe
It's the "bones and ribs" building behind the Hemisfèric... large numbers of visitors were there, especially families with children.
It's a museum of mixed science - human body-related, biometrics, physics, climate, spy science are just part o the themes of the exhibitions.
This is where the main entrance is found
Allegedly, Calatrava's building mimics a whale's skeleton...
You can take a better look at it from the Umbracle, which is on higher ground.
This is why I called it the "bones and ribs" building...
I was very impressed by this vertical clam-like blue building. It's another one of Santiago Calatrava's works...
It's in fact a "multifunctional covered space", an arena or auditorium that can host 6,075 visitors.
Strange, but the building often hosts sports events - like tennis matches, but concerts can also be held here.
What's even stranger is that the top section is mobile. The "clam's spikes" come out and move when adjusting the natural lighting conditions. It's illustrated here on this website pretty well.
The dark blue clam auditorium & sports hall
A marina park, you may call it an aquarium. It was designed by Fèlix Candela.
45,000 animals, including 500 different species of fish live in the marine complex. Except fish, there are penguins, dolphins, sea lions, beluga whales, walruses...
I think it's rather for children, I didn't go in. But it was overcrowded, as opposed to the other buildings that seemed almost deserted at the time of my visit.
This is only the entrance to a huge aquatic world!
The Artificial Lake
It kind-of surrounds the Hemisfèric building. It's not deep, looks rather like a swimming pool.
Some youngsters played with plastic water bubbles (see the image below). It can be a real art to stand in sphere, while it floats.
You can get in or out of the bubble through a zipper. Zip-up and you're contained - water doesn't get in. Then they inflate the bubble to make it hard by blowing air with a tube.
It's worth taking a good look at the bridgest that criss-cross the area of the City of Arts and Sciences.
Pont de Monteolivete runs above the complex, between the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía and the Hemisfèric buildings. It's a twin-bridge rather, split in the middle...
By the way, Monteolivete is a barrio (district) of Valencia.
Puente de Monteolivete
Pont l'Assut de l'Or is another bridge worth checking out is right near the Àgora (dark blue shell-like building).
Another one of Calatrava's masterpieces. It spans across 180 m, quite a heavy suspension bridge - I must say.
It has a height of 125 m, which is also the highest point of the entire Valencia.
Pont l'Assut de l'Or
The Park Area
Beautiful green area surrounds most of the complex. Especially in the northern parts of the City of Arts and Sciences, around the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía, it's worth strolling for a while... the winding paths even climb upwards on slight slopes and there are artificial water bodies, scattered vegetation here and there...
Just a few trees, but many bushes in the park... joggers and dogs-walkers were everywhere
About the Author:
Escape Hunter, the young solo traveler in his early 30's explores the World driven by curiosity, thirst for adventure, deep passion for beauty, love for freedom and diversity.
With a nuanced, even humorous approach to travel, an obsession for art and design, Escape Hunter prefers to travel slowly, in order to learn and "soak up" the local atmosphere...
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