Valencia’s impressive architecture ranges from the quaint traditional old town in the city centre, to the tall imposing grand buildings in the rest of the city. Large bridges link the centre between opposite sides of the river, where long green walkways allow you to follow its course. In amongst the history and the tall apartment blocks and offices that tower across the wide streets, there is an exceptional modern structure that resembles architecture more similar to the Sydney Opera House rather than way you would expect from modern Spain.
Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències – City of Arts and Sciences comprises an Opera House, an IMAX cinema, an interactive museum of science, a landscaped walk with plant species indigenous to the Valencia region and the largest aquarium in Europe as well as a suspension bridge and a covered plaza.
The impressive Opera house named after Queen Sofia – El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía, appears to be shaped in the form of a fish. The building overhangs part of the bridge and the plants and flowers on the large balcony spill over giving it life and colour at its heart.
Below the opera house a bridge connects the opposite sides of the river and reaches over the subterranean walkway which is surrounded by fountains and bike paths. The complex is situated at the end of the former riverbed of the river Turia, which was drained and rerouted after a catastrophic flood in 1957. This allows the paths to run along the old riverbed which is now a sunken park.
This is a beautiful place for a stroll in the shade or even at night stretching along the whole complex.
The L’Umbracle is a landscaped walk with plant species indigenous to the region surrounding Valencia. It was designed as a entrance to the Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències. It also contains The Walk of the Sculptures, an outdoor art gallery with sculptures from a number of contemporary artists including Yoko Ono.
The L’Hemisfèric, the smooth rounded glass structure housing an IMAX cinema, a Planetarium and Laserium, is modelled in the shape of an eye. Its design resembles an eyelid that opens to access the surrounding shallow water allowing visitors to peer out onto the walkways and over the rest of the complex. The shutters open revealing glass windows a solid round pupil inside the structure. The bottom of the pool is glass, creating the illusion of the eye as a whole.
El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe houses the science museum. The impressive structure was designed to resemble the skeleton of a whale. It’s spiky white bones poke out of the side and the suspension bridge resembles its tail behind it.
The complex was designed by local Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela another renowned Spanish architect. The first building was completed 1998 and the final structure, the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía, was completed in 2005.