Valencia Diaries- Ciutat de les Arts I les Ciencies (City of Arts and Sciences)

The Ciutat De Les Arts I Les Ciences (City of Arts and Sciences) is a breath-taking, sprawling complex of unconventional, rhythmic and almost abstract buildings designed by Spanish architects – Santiago Calatrava and Felix Candela. The futuristic design of the buildings seem to have maritime and skeletal influences, with a nod to biomimicry in the buildings.

img_2736

I recommend allocating at least half a day to exploring this ‘white concrete village’. There is no entry ticket to this place unless you wish to enter specific buildings or events. Buses from the city stop right outside the centre so it is fairly convenient to access via public transport. As soon as you embark, you feel you have stepped into a science fiction movie set!

img_2747

The first building we encountered was L’Oceanografic– a maritime museum hugely popular with families and listed as the fourth best thing to visit in Valencia on TripAdvisor! We didn’t go in, but managed to capture the impressive glass façade with its floral inspired architecture and geometric forms, designed by Candela.

img_2689
L’Oceanografic

Next stop on the architectural walk was L’Agora– a large multifunctional space that is used for conventions and events. This was the only building we saw with a distinctive blue facade. We had a little sneak peek of the cavernous interiors through one of the glass doors as it was not open to public on the day. All around were little sparkling pools which, along with the breeze, helped keep ambient temperatures down. It is indeed a marvellous piece of construction and looms over you like the underside of a large ship.

img_3047
L’Agora

Past L’Agora, as we moved further along, we came across the only bridge construction that forms part of the complex – Assut de l’Or. It is a white cable-stayed bridge designed by my favourite architect – Santiago Calatrava. It is a testament to his love for combining structural design with architecture, with sweeping lines and seamless finish.

img_2701
Assut de l’Or

As you go under the bridge and emerge, you enter the main hub of the entire complex. Right in front of you is the Museu de les Ciencies Principe Felipe – another Calatrava creation.

img_2700
Musus de les Ciencies Principe Felipe

It is essentially a science and technology museum and you will need to buy tickets to enter the main spaces. However the ground floor level is free entry, and I would recommend using the facilities there and taking a break before continuing. There is a lovely café and an Italian restaurant where you can stop for some coffee and cake, or in my case, some wine!

img_2914

The design of the building is meant to resemble the skeleton of a whale!

 

img_2723
Structural elements of the science museum
img_2729
An open air staircase leads you the next level
img_2730
The impressive facade

img_2737

Directly opposite to the museum is the L’Umbracle – a beautifully landscaped garden and walkway under an elliptical, arched structure that houses plant species native to Valencia.

img_2720
Side view of L’Umbracle

Walking inside L’Umbracle, temperatures were definitely cooler (thanks to the palm trees) and provided us with much needed refuge from the heat. It was also a very relaxing way to learn about the city’s indigenous flora.

img_2731
Entrance to L’Umbracle
img_2740
The internal boulevard

This is also the place where we had a taste of our first Horchata (Orxata in Catalan) – the Valencian secret to keeping cool under hot temperatures. This refreshingly ice cold drink, made of tiger nuts, is sweet and nutty to taste. We immediately felt the difference upon drinking it, as it cooled and refreshed our bodies and made the walk in 34 degrees of heat more palatable.

img_1858
My first Horchata!

Continuing our journey, we were now standing in front of what I think is the most beautiful (and a personal favourite) building of the entire complex – L’Hemisferic or The Eye!

img_2718

img_2712
L’ Hemisferic

img_2755

It is a planetarium and IMAX cinema. The design is made to resemble the eye, when seen in conjunction with its reflection on the pool, complete with retina and eyelid. It is indeed the most iconic and magnificent of all the buildings.

img_2743
Resembling the ‘Eye’

img_2739

img_2747

Last but not the least , we ended our walk in front of the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia –  a theatre and opera house, again designed by Calatrava. To me it looked like a giant whale, with its sweeping curves of white concrete, metal and glass.

img_2754
The impressive entrance to the opera house

img_2936

Santiago Caltrava is known (often criticised) for his theatrical, out of context and outlandish designs. I am in love with his style and this visit to the Ciutat De Les Arts I Les Ciences was a fascinating journey to understand his designs a bit deeper. It was a stimulating and engaging experience which will stay with me forever.

img_2749

More information can be found at

http://www.cac.es/es/home.html

 

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s