The City of Arts and Sciences is an entertainment-based cultural, sci-fi-style and architectural complex in the city of Valencia, Spain. It is the most important modern tourist destination in the city of Valencia and one of the 12 Treasures of Spain.
The City of Arts and Sciences is situated at the end 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, the project began the first stages of construction in July 1996, and was inaugurated April 16, 1998 with the opening of L’Hemisfèric. The last great component of the City of Arts and Sciences, El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, was inaugurated on October 9, 2005, Valencian Community Day. budgeted at €300 million, it has cost nearly three times the initial expected cost.
The complex is made up of the following buildings, in order of their inauguration:
L’Hemisfèric (1998) — an IMAX Cinema, planetarium and laserium. The building is meant to resemble a giant eye, and has an approximate surface of 13,000 m². The Hemesferic also known as the planetarium or the “eye of knowledge,” is the centerpiece of the City of Arts and Sciences. The bottom of the pool is glass, creating the illusion of the eye as a whole. The shutter is built of elongated aluminum awnings that fold upward collectively to form a brise soleil roof that opens along the curved axis of the eye. The City of Arts and Sciences is divided in half by a set of stairs that descend into the vaulted concrete lobby. The underground spaces are illuminated with the use of translucent glass panels within the walking path. There is a miraculous echo inside of the building and if two people stay on the two opposite pillars inside of the eye they can seamlessly speak with each other.
El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe (2000) — Is an interactive museum of science that resembles the skeleton of a whale. It occupies around 40,000 m² on three floors. Much of the ground floor is taken up by a basketball court sponsored by a local team and various companies. The building’s architecture is known for its geometry, structure, use of materials, and its design around nature. It has 20,000 square meters of glass, 4,000 panes, 58,000 m³ of concrete, and 14.000 tons of steel. This magnificent building stands 220 meters long, 80 meters wide and 55 meters high.
L’Umbracle (2001) — an open structure enveloping a landscaped walk with plant species indigenous to Valencia. It was designed as an entrance to the City of Arts and Sciences. It is 320 meters long and 60 meters wide, located on the southern side of the complex. It includes 55 fixed arches and 54 floating arches that stand 18 meters high.
El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia (2005) — an opera house and performing arts center. It is surrounded by 87,000 square meters of landscape and water, as well as 10,000 square meters of walking area. The Palau de Les Arts has four sections; the main hall, the master hall, the auditorium, and the Martin y Soler theatre. Panoramic lifts and stairways connect platforms at different heights on the inside of the metallic frames of the building. The building has a metallic feather outer roof that rests on two supports and is 230 meters long and 70 meters high.
L’Àgora (2009) — a covered plaza in which concerts and sporting events (such as the Valencia Open 500) are held. The Agora is a space designed to hold a variety of events such as concerts, performances, exhibitions, conventions, staging of congresses, and international sports meetings. Many important events have been held in this building including the Freestyle Burn Spanish Cup in 2010 and the Christmas Special Program.
Torres de València — forming part of a project of the construction of three skyscrapers of 308, 266 and 220 m. The project has been put on hold and the possibilities that it will be finished are seen by many as doubtful