Valencia – Spain’s City of Arts and Sciences

Santiago Calatrava and Felix Candela have created a must-see place in Spain, where art and science are celebrated in a setting of cutting-edge contemporary architecture.

Turia1957A disastrous flood in 1957 which killed at least 81 people has ultimately resulted in an architectural triumph for our city of Valencia, on Spain’s Mediterranean coast. Because of the flood, the city decided to divert the course of the river Turia, which had flowed through the heart of Valencia. In 1968 the work was completed. With the river now located west of the city, the old riverbed was turned into a long garden that winds through the heart of Valencia. In the mid 1990s a forward-looking city government decided to build a cultural center in the old river bed that would excite interest in science and in the arts.

Designs by Santiago Calatrava

Now, more than €400 million later, that cultural center is helping to drive the local economy as a major tourist attraction, at the same time enriching the cultural life of the city. The premier architect, Valencia native Santiago Calatrava designed most of the project, including the Hemisferic, the Palau de Artes Reina Sofia, the Museu de les Ciensias Principe Felipe, the L’Umbracie gardens and the immense reflecting pools that surround this part of the project. On the other side of Calatrava’s spectacular Puente del Grao bridge from the Museu de les Ciencias, the L’Oceanografic was designed by Felix Candela, also mixing science with some spectacular architecture. Close to the Oceanographic another Calatrava structure, the Agora, a large capacity auditorium, is nearing completion.

This complex of buildings is one of the most spectacular architectural sights in the world. It presents a panoply of curves and forms that changes from moment to moment as one walks through its gardens and along its reflecting pools. While moving along these walkways, visitors see each building, along with its reflection and the shapes of the other buildings.

Candela Oceanografic

Candela’s Oceanografic


New Standard for Modern Cities

The entire City of Arts and Sciences breaks from traditional architecture, with concepts of the modern city that humanize its space in a dramatic way. To site these large structures so close to one another in a normal urban setting would have made them interesting. But Calatrava and Candela have gone far beyond that standard. Calatrava’s great works are set amidst watery reflecting pools, gardens and pedestrian walkways that set them like jewels in a necklace that runs through the center of the city. Candela has set his Oceanografic in its own park with striking buildings, each with a different function, set in spaces with trees, greenery and water features.

In summer Valencia can be a hot place under the Spanish sun. The stunning white ceramic-covered (trencadis) concrete of the buildings is reflective, reducing heat absorption. Their setting in the bed of the former river also helps, and the sheer massive area of the reflecting pools helps to make this place a refuge from the heat.

Reason to Visit Valencia

The City of Arts and Sciences is one of the great architectural experiences of the modern world and itself a reason for a visit to this fascinating city.

About The Author

Born in the UK to an English mother and Spanish father, Amancay relocated to her father's home town of Alboraya in 2010. She moved to the centre of Valencia in 2012, where she works as a real estate agent selling properties to expats from the Northern European countries.

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