The City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia
The ‘City of Arts and Sciences’ in Valencia is widely recommended as a must-see for any first-time visitor to the city.
The rather tongue twisting name for it refers to a group of futuristic buildings designed by local architects, namely Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela, and who built this amazing place in stages, starting in 1998, at the seaward end of the old Turia river bed.
The City of Arts contains 6 distinct zones or buildings:
- The first one built, L'Hemisferic, was designed to look like a giant human eye. It offers, among other things, a 3D panoramic cinema, which is always popular with both locals and tourists.
Once you descend into the cinema, you are given 3D glasses which have built-in speakers, programmed to your own language so no matter what country you are from, you can sit back and fully enjoy the movies, of which there are many.
- Then we find El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe, or the Prince Philip Science museum. It has a programme of changing exhibits at various times of the year and you don't have to be a science fan to enjoy it. It's very educational for children too, with plenty of activities inside to keep them entertained.
- The other part of the complex houses L'Umbracle, which is completely free and is a landscaped walk of plants native to the area and various artistic and thought-provoking sculptures.
- Then there is L'Oceanogràfic, which is basically a small version of Sea World, so expect to pay to visit. It’s not cheap, but it is well worth it for sure. They do a dolphin display and it has the largest glass water tunnel in Europe to walk through, directly underneath the massive fish tank, with sharks swimming a few metres from your face!
- El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía is the next part, which is an impressive looking opera house and theatre.
- The last and newest bit is L'Àgora, which is a covered exhibition space and sports arena with the shape of an ellipse. The City of Arts and Sciences is, with its stunning architecture, actually a great sporting venue, and Valencia hosts spectacular sport events every year.