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The Aliens have landed! – Ciudad de Las Artes y Las Ciencias in Valencia

The Aliens have landed! – Ciudad de Las Artes y Las Ciencias in Valencia

What looks like a Martian spacecraft, is actually the Ciudad de las Artes y Las Ciencias, a tremendous complex which gives home to the cultural spirit of infinite curiosity and thirst for knowledge. There are three major themes here: arts, sciences and nature. The 350,000 square meters of the complex are made up of several different areas, including the Palacio de las Artes, the Umbracle, the Museo de las Ciencias Príncipe Felipe, the Oceanogràfic and the Hemisfèric.

This incredible building is the new face of the City of Valencia, with which it presents itself to the world as a window towards the future. It is situated at the edge of the former riverbed of the river Turia, which was drained and rerouted after a catastrophic flood in 1957. The old riverbed was turned into a picturesque sunken park. Designed by Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela (mastermind behind the underwater city “L’Oceanográfic” whose work is also reminiscent of Antoní Gaudí’s work in Barcelona), the project underwent its first stages of construction in July 1996. It has cost the Valencians about 1.2 billion euros and was completed in 2008, right before Spain was hit by the financial crisis. Nevertheless, Valencia’s tourism industry has profited from it significantly, as it has been estimated to have brought over 40 million new visitors and a revenue of approx. 2 billion euros since its completion.

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Music, new technologies, mathematics, ecology, education, cinema, nature, biotopes and vanguard arts are just a few of the subjects that have found their home in this unique complex. By allowing guests to actively participate in interactive exhibitions, it has implemented a new form of museum educational services.

Valencians are proud to present to the world this symbol of a new, dynamic and advanced Valencia, which is building it’s own path towards a new future. The complex is a magical place, where everything seems possible: attend an opera, watch the stars, discover the origins of life, challenge a shark… Enter this fascinating world!

The Hemisfèric
The Hemisfèric (photo credit: R.A cc)

Hemisfèric is a spectacular building designed by Santiago Calatrava that represents a human eye, the eye of wisdom. The building symbolises the act of observing the world, which visitors discover by means of surprising audiovisual projections. It was the first section in the City of Arts and Sciences that was opened for the public, in 1998. It has an ovoidal roof of over 100 metres with 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.

L’Oceanogràfic (photo credit: Tuscasasrurales cc)

The Oceanogràfic invites us to discover a genuine marine park that includes representations of the main seas and oceans of the planet. With a surface area of 110,000 m2 and a volume of 42 million litres of water (equivalent to 15 Olympic swimming pools), it is the largest aquarium in Europe. The Oceanogràfic is made up of different buildings that contain representations of the earth´s most significant ecosystems, found in the continent’s seas and oceans. A spectacular sphere, 26 metres in height, this space simulates two of the most singular wetland areas on the planet: mangrove swamps and the Fens. A large dome in an igloo shape represents the Arctic region. The Underwater Restaurant, located in the centre of the complex, is the most emblematic building of the Oceanogràfic, due to its unique roof designed by Felix Candela. It represents a paraboloid figure similar to that of a water lily, and contains a large aquarium on the ground floor that fits perfectly into the whole of its perimeter.

The Umbracle
The Umbracle (photo credit: CIUDAD DE LAS ARTES Y LAS CIENCIAS cc)

The Umbracle is a jaw-dropping gardened esplanade and exhibition zone with incredible views over the whole complex, which houses a large car park.  It is a vantage point of over 17,500 square metres with an exhibition zone from which all the buildings, lakes, walkways, and landscaped areas of the City of Arts and Sciences can be seen. Its vegetation is characteristic of the Mediterranean region, of the Region of Valencia, and of tropical countries, and it changes according to the season of the year. The Umbracle also contains an interesting exhibition of contemporary sculptures created by internationally acknowledged artists.

Museo de las Ciencias Princípe Felipe
Museo de las Ciencias Princípe Felipe (photo credit: vil.sandi cc)

On the first floor of the Museum the public can find workshops and interactive science exhibitions, where they can experiment with fun modules, such as Exploratorium. You can access the first floor from Calle Mayor, which houses an artistic representation of the DNA double helix, 15 metres in height, as well as the Foucault Pendulum, which is one of the longest pendulums in the world (34 m). Visitors can also admire the impressive glass surface of the Museum, with over 4,000 panes and a beautiful view over the former Turia river.

The second floor is devoted to the exhibition “The Legacy of Science”, which reveals the life and research of three outstanding Nobel prize winners.

Here you will have the opportunity to explore an impressive Chromosome Forest on the third floor, with over 2,600 square metres devoted to one of the biggest milestones in modern science: the sequencing of human DNA. There is a large-scale reproduction of the 23 pairs of chromosomes of the human species.

Other interactive exhibitions on this floor include “Zero Gravity“, created jointly with the European Space Agency, and the “Space Academy”, an interactive module that reproduces the space launch to the International Space Station.

The Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia
The Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia (photo credit: Rafael Minguet cc)

This palace consists of four big exhibition rooms: the Sala Principal, which serves mostly as an opera space, but may be used for ballets as well, the Aula Magistral, which was designed for live performances of small bands, the Auditorio, with room for more than 1,400 spectators, and the Teatro Martín i Soler, which is dedicated to Applied Arts and the Academia de Perfeccionamiento (Academy of Specializations).

Featured image photo credit: Un ragazzo chiamato Bi via photopin cc

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Written by: xavi


Hello there! I love to travel, and Barcelona is a great city to live, thats why I decided to write about it and share my experiences!

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