Valencia, has reclaimed the land of the old Turia river and constructed the largest science themed park and aquarium in Spain and Europe. 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. In Spanish this is called the Ciutat de les Artes i les Ciencies.
The architecture by Santiago Calatrava and Felix Candela is astounding. The group of buildings include different natural habitats such as the Red Sea, the Arctic with penguins, Mangrove Swamps with the true fish and the Atlantic, allowing you to walk in a long glass tunnel under the water and have all the species of fish around you including large sharks. Spain's Mediterranean shore is also there. The entrance is expensive but it's worth it for at least one visit.
The project started construction in July 1996 and the finished "city" 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 presented on October 9, 2005, Valencian Community Day.
L'Hemisfèric — 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. It was the first building completed in 1998. 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. It opens to reveal the dome, the pupil of the eye, which is the Ominax theater.
El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe — Is an interactive museum of science that resembles the skeleton of a whale. It occupies around 40,000 m² on three floors. The building’s architecture is known for its geometry, structure, use of materials, and its design around nature. This magnificent building stands 220 meters long, 80 meters wide and 55 meters high.
L'Umbracle — a landscaped walk with plant species indigenous to Valencia (such as rockrose, lentisca, romero, lavender, honeysuckle, bougainvillea, palm tree). It is 320 meters long and 60 meters wide and has 55 fixed arches and 54 floating arches that stand 18 meters high. The plants in the garden were carefully picked to change color with the seasons. The garden consists of 99 palm trees, 78 small palm trees, 62 bitter orange trees. There are 42 varieties of shrubs from the Region of Valencia, 5,500 carpet plants such as Lotus, Agateas, Spanish Flags, and Fig Marigolds. There are over a hundred aromatic plants including Rosemary and Lavender.
L'Oceanogràfic — an open-air oceanographic park. It is the largest oceanographic aquarium in Europe with 110,000 square meters and 42 million liters of water. It was built in the shape of a water lily and is the work of architect Félix Candela.
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