The City of Arts & Sciences
In the late 80s and early 90s the idea of a local professior of history of science (Mr. José María López Piñero) to build a museum dedicated to science near the Garden of Turia slowly started to attract the attention of local authorities. After some debates (and controversy due to the substantial expenses) the project turned into reality when the first buidling of the complex (L’Hemisferic) was opened in 1998.
Swimming in the sea of knowledge
Marine life seems to have been a great inspiration for the architects who built the City of Arts & Sciences: apart from the obvious connection with the nearby Oceanographic museum and the abundance of water: El Museu de les Ciencies Principe Felipe resembles the skeleton of a whale and the building of the Oceanographic museum, the Palace of Arts Reina Sofia and L’Agora all look like magnificent sea creatures trying to swim their way to the surfacace.
Abstract Beauty, Sculpture & Architecture
Apart from the stunning forms and gorgeous marine colors of the buildings, there is a distinctly futuristic feeling to the whole place. You feel like you have walked into a sci-fi novel about the near future where the world is dominated by energetic Spanish people 🙂
The whole place is so distinct and so powerful as a presence that it is hard to look away: both due to the immense size of everything around you and to the charming details: from the fine pieces of mosaic, to the abstract symmetry which makes even a staircase look uncannily beautiful.
The so called Walk of the Sculptures (a passageway, connecting the Palace of Arts with the rest of the buildings) exhibits works from contemporary scultors and keeps introducing novelty to the complex. Although, to be frank, the whole place looks like it was made in 2098, not in 1998.
The all seeing eye
The cenerpiece of the whole City of Arts & Sciences is L’Hemisferic which serves the combined purpose of planetarium, IMAX cinema and venue for laser shows. What is special about the building (apart from the fact that it is designed to mimic the human eye) is that it transorms itself: the roof moves like an eyelid!
Popular Science & Arts
The City of Arts & Sciences is a beautiful space aiming to popularize science not a real research center. Arts & Sciences are presented in an entertaining way which makes them attractive for the general audience.
And right next to the museum complex is the beautiful park of Turia. I remember the first time we came to Valencia with Stef. It was in the spring and we could walk for hours and hours through Turia and still notice new things, sculptures like hidden treasures, fountains, plants and people: runnning, exercising, riding bikes, playing football. The Gardens are bursting with life and a healthy strive for staying active and remaining close to nature even in the midst of the city.
I get depressed if I am only surrounded by cobblestone, metal and concrete: I need to see the color green around me (whether it is greener in my park or the next one) and have the calm touch of nature brighten up the hectic urban hassle. In that department: Valencia was a dream come true for me. It not only has intriguing history, fantastic contemporary architecture and edgy urban art: it is surrounded by the largest park in Spain!
The Green Shortcut
The old riverbed of Turia passes through a large part of the city and it is like a green shortcut to wherever you want to go. If you want to get away from the streets and keep to yourself and to nature: you just enter the gardens and exit on the nearest bridge or staircase which allows you to get back into the city
The Dark Past
Every autumn Valencia is showered by long and heavy rainfall. But in 1957 things got really out of hand.
What is now the Turia gardens was a flowing river which flooded the streets of the city with the water level reaching 2.5 metres (!) in some parts of the city. If you pay close attention there are still buildings with marks “The water reached up to here”. This lead the city authorities to the decision to sidetrack the river and leave the channel empty.
Motorway vs Park
The initial plan was to build a motorway across the river bed but thanks to protests and civil stubborness, Turia was turned to what it is today: a vast garden for Valencia’s people: with children’s playgrounds, museum buildings, fountains, outdoors gym facilities, football fields, bike and jogging alleys…In short: sugar, spice and everything nice.
Palms, floss-silk trees with huge thorns (originally from South America), pampass grass, hibiscus: you name it. Turia is full of beautiful and (at least for the part of Europe where I come from) exotic plants
If you love staying active Turia offers all kinds of options for leading a healthy lifestyle. You can rent a bike, go jogging, use the outdoor gyms, play football and even baseball, have a yoga or tai chi class outside, etc. There are even rollerblade hockey teams.
A perfect circle
The park of Turia starts at the Biopark of Valencia where you can observe animals in their natural habitat and ends with the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias (City of Arts and Science) so if you decide not only to rest but to enjoy a day full of nature exploration and knowledge: this is the perfect place for you
All photos in this post were shot on the lovely Lumix G80 which I had the pleasure to test during the Valencia trip. For more posts in this series:
✓Bring a blanket and have a picnic on the grass!
✓Rent a bike for a quicker and more fun passage!
✓Join in: there are paid classes in the park but also people practicing yoga or tai chi just for fun
✓Bring running shoes and sports gear on your trip: you will literally feel energized just by watching how active everybody is and you don’t want to realize at that point that you have only jeans and ankle boots in your luggage (Converse Chucks don’t count: their soles and general built are terrible for running and doing sports, at least if you truly care about your feet and ankles)
✓Small sign of warning:
Turia is very safe, but if you plan on passing through it in the evening: beware of passing under bridges. We noticed it by accident but there are actually people living under the bridge support structure just above your head. The police apparently chasey away the homeless if they see them on the ground, so people have learned to climb on the metal and concrete support structures and camp there. They are probably mostly harmless but you never know, so keep in mind that when you are passing under a bridge you should look up, not just ahead.
Map of Turia