So you think you know Valencia? Paella, fallas, sun, sand, football, passion, light and love. All of these fiery elements make up a place that has become known as the Mediterannean city par excellence. Part of the charm lies in the contrast between the old (the centro historico) and newish The City of Arts and Sciences…
Millions have been invested in one of the most forward-thinking projects of recent times. Bringing together internationally renowned architects, research scientists and pioneers of the arts world… the city of Art and Sciences has put Valencia on the international map. It has brought praise from ‘The Times’ in London and acclaim in Sydney and New York.
The City is based on the river Turia and covers an area of 350.000 m 2. It has an estimated three million visitors each year. Broken up into five parts, each building has a distinctive identity and design :
This includes a planetarium, Imax cinema and Laserium Omiscan. Designed by Santiago Calatrava (Valencia’s most famous architect) it evokes the image of a gigantic human eye. In stereophonic sound, on a huge screen of 900m2, there are continual audiovisual displays with stunning sound and images. Simultaneously presented in four languages, you just sit back and take it all in. With the latest astronomy and laser technology it is great fun for younger enthusiasts as well the older visitor.
The cinema dome has the shape, sound and images to give the impression that you are in the films being shown. It is quite an experience for the unintiated. The aim is to entertain and display images that are not just the reserve of experts. It is also an educative centre for teachers and students with an interest in astronomy.
MUSEU DE LES CIENCIES “PRINCIPE FELIPE”
Opened in 1998 it has already become one of the great world museums. It is a clear symbol of twenty first century values: Open –minded to the latest technological advances without forgetting the traditional aim of informing and bringing together the public from all walks of life. Biology, physics, sport, communications are all looked at in an original and entertaining way. With three levels of 8000m2 and a continual run of expositions, workshops and demonstrations, it combines the work of Nobel Prize winners as well as experimental and entertaining displays from the present. It invites the public to take part in the museum’s aims not just be bystanders. With internet facilities and scientific supervisors on hand, everyone can have a hand in a place that makes science fun as well as fascinating.
This oceanographic centre is the largest of its kind on the continent. Covering an area of 80.000 m2 it combines the biggest aquarium in Europe, an underwater restaurant (eat fish while larger ones swim past you), sea displays that range from the Arctic to the Tropical. Even a 70m underwater glass tunnel is available for visitors to be in close contact with sea creatures from all over the world.
The educative and entertaining aspects of such a project enables the public and experts to take it all in a city that has always combined fire with water.
PALAU DE LES ARTS
It is often been said that port cites have a special relationship with music. Sydney and Liverpool are two famous examples. Valencia is becoming another. Covering an area of 40.000 m2 it is has become one of the key centres of classical music and opera of the twenty first century. With the latest acoustic technology, a huge auditorium and flexible stage facilities it is attracting established names from the dance, theatre and music world who are ready for a new challenge.
This is an avant-garde contribution to the city that can hold over 1000 vehicles. With a panoramic view of the city it has a promenade and garden. Valencia’s very own Xanadu! It is a popular disco and Chill Out zone at weekends and hosts all sorts of private events throughout the year.
These are exciting times for the community. The City of Art and Sciences represents a place that is becoming a symbol of 21st century Europe. Whether you are spending a weekend or a year in the area, it is becoming as much a part of the city as the traditional plate of paella and colour of Fallas. To quote Charlton Heston in his film role of El Cid as he reached the gates of the city: “THIS IS VALENCIA!
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