The City of Arts and Sciences is a cultural and architectural complex in Valencia, Spain. It is a wonder full of futuristic architecture and design. Designed by Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela, the project began in 1996 and was completed in 2009. Many consider the marvelous white city one of the most important destinations in Valencia and a treasure of Spain.
The City of Arts and Sciences comprises several unique structures that connect through a plaza and multiple bridges. It is surrounded by water and centered in a city over 2,000 years old. Despite this, this city within a city makes it seem like they’re from the future with its futuristic architectural designs.
Wandering the grounds left us stunned at the architects magnificent vision. Here are a few of the structures we absolutely love:
Built-in 1998, the Hemisfèric is a 3D cinema, planetarium, and centerpiece of the Ciudad. Also known as the “eye of knowledge,” the building is surrounded by a glass-bottom pool, resembling a giant eye. The planetarium is a half-sphere in a concrete structure with aluminum awnings and shutters. The shutters fold upward to form a sun breaker roof opening along the eye’s curve. It reveals the theater, which is the domed “iris” of the eye. Inside holds a massive concave IMAX screen.
The Oceanografic is the largest aquarium in Europe and an open-air oceanographic park. Conceived by architect Félix Candela, the 42-million-liter aquarium is white and shaped like a water lily. It’s intended to represent different aquatic locations, including wetlands, tropical seas, the Antarctic, etc. The aquarium is home to over 500 different marine species. It includes sharks, dolphins, penguins, sea urchins, jellyfish, walruses, sea lions, seals, and wetland birds.
Palau de les Arts
This opera and performing arts center hosts operas, ballet, concerts, and zarzuela – a lyric-dramatic genre of spoken and sung performance. The building includes the main hall, master hall, an auditorium, and the Martin y Soler theatre. Water, landscaping, and walking paths surround the outside of the metallic white structure, while lifts and stairways connect the sections. Two laminated steel shells and a metallic feather outer roof supported by white concrete cover the colossal building.
Prince Felipe Museum of Sciences
Designed by Santiago Calatrava, the Prince Felipe Museum of Sciences is over 9 acres long. You cannot overlook that it resembles a prehistoric whale skeleton. This hands-on science museum takes its mission to heart. The museum hosts exhibitions around the human body, climate change, and biometrics, and much more.
The Umbracle is a vast, open-access contemporary sculpture garden that acts as one of the entrances the City of Arts and Sciences. It has 55 fixed and 54 floating arches that stand nearly fifty feet tall. The “Walk of the Sculptures” features work from Yoko Ono, Miquel from Navarre, Francesc Abbot, and others.
Assut D’or Bridge
The tip of this white cable-stayed bridge is the highest point in the city. The triangle-shaped structure, created by Santiago Calatrava, features curved pylons with counterweights. The cables appear to pull it back like a bow across the now dry riverbed. The bridge allows motor vehicle and pedestrian travel in both directions. A pedestrian bridge connects the Science Museum and the Agora.
The most recent addition to the city, the Àgora, opened in 2009. Its blue facade rises out of the water like an iceberg. This ensures the Àgora stands out in a sea of white. Both inside and out beneath a covered plaza, the venue hosts performances, conventions, concerts, exhibitions, sporting events, and more.
Walking through this city will be a stimulating experience and lesson to fantastical modern design. It is a place that is definitely worth the trip.