City of Arts and Sciences

Frontal view of opened L'Hemisfèric
Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències (2008)

The City of Arts and Sciences (Valencian: Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències [siwˈtad de les ˈaɾts i les siˈɛ]; Spanish: Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias [θjuˈðað ðe las ˈaɾtes i las ˈθjenθjas]) is an entertainment-based cultural 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.

Originally budgeted at €300 million, it has cost nearly three times the initial expected cost.[1]


The complex is made up of the following buildings, in order of their inauguration:

El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe
Interior of El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe
L'Umbracle, built over a car park
Interior of L'Umbracle (2007)
El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía
El Pont de l'Assut de l'Or


Origins of the project[]

In 1989, the then president of the Valencian Regional Government, Joan Lerma, took up the idea of José María López Piñero, professor of the history of science at the University of Valencia, to build a scientific museum on the land of the Garden of the Turia River that bordered the road with mulberry trees. Lerma created a team to launch the project.

The "City of the Sciences" was the name that the autonomous government gave to the initiative, and plans included a 370m high communications tower, which would have been the third highest one in the world at that time; a planetarium; and the museum of science. The total price of the works was estimated to be about 25,000 million pesetas.

The project did however cause controversy. The Conservative Popular Party saw in the City of the Sciences a "work of the pharaohs" that would serve only to swell the ego of the Socialists, who were the driving forces behind the initiative. Later, several successive Popular Party governments continued and expanded the complex way beyond the original Socialist project at an enormous cost, heavily indebting the city.


In May 1991, the council approved the transfer of lands. Four months later the project was presented, designed by Santiago Calatrava. Construction began by the end of 1994.

The team that had designed the museum did not see eye to eye with the form in which Santiago Calatrava conceived the building. Therefore, a couple of changes were made.[citation needed]


In April 1998 the complex opened its doors to the public with L'Hemisfèric. Eleven months later, the president of Valencia, Eduardo Zaplana, inaugurated the Prince Felipe Museum of the Sciences, although the museum was not yet finished. The museum was opened to the public twenty months later. December 12, 2002 was the opening of L'Oceanographic, the largest aquarium built in Europe. Finally, on October 8, 2005 the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía was opened and became the opera house of Valencia.

Architects: Santiago Calatrava and Felix Candela[]

Santiago Calatrava was born in Valencia, Spain, on 28 July 1951. He is a qualified architect and engineer and also known for his artist skills in painting and sculpting. He attended the Art Academy in Valencia in the mid-1960s, then he earned a degree in architecture and a post graduate course in city planning at the Escuela Tecnica Superior de Arquitectura, studied civil engineering at the Federal Polytechnic University of Zurich, and participated in academic research investigating The Foldability of Space Frames. Calatrava's architecture is aimed to unite structure and movement. Early in his career, Calatrava was the winner to design Stadelhofen Station in Zurich. He was recognized for his achievement in creating poetics of movement and integrating public transportation in a natural setting and urban context. Another theme in his work was moving contraptions in his buildings. The dome for the Reichstag Conversion Competition in Berlin that open and closes like a flower. The Planetarium in the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia opens and closes like eyelids.

There is, however, a controversy as to the values his work brings its users, especially when observing the usability of public space surrounding his buildings.[citation needed]

Felix Candela was born on January 27, 1910 in Madrid Spain and died December 7, 1997. His architectural designs composed of reinforced concrete structures distinguished by thin, curved shells. His popularity sprung from his design, in collaboration with Jorge Gonzales Reyna, of the Cosmic Ray Pavilion in Mexico. He used his signature design of the reinforced concrete roof that varies in thickness from only 5/8 inch to 2 inches. He also built the church of La Virgin Milagrosa in Mexico City and the church of San Vicente de Paul. His designs consisted of warped-shell industrial buildings, thin-shell centenary, and barrel-vaulted factories and warehouses. Candela was also a teacher at Harvard University and University of Illinois. Felix Candela designed the underwater city, L'Oceanografic, located in the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia and is reminiscent of Antoni Gaudí work in Barcelona.

In popular culture[]

Some portions of the area were featured in the 2013 racing game Gran Turismo 6 as a photo location. Exterior scenes of the futuristic city in the 2015 film Tomorrowland were filmed around the City of Arts and Sciences.[3] In 2016 (broadcast in 2017) it was also used as a filming location in the British science-fiction television programme Doctor Who, appearing in the second episode of the tenth series, "Smile".[4]

Financial controversy[]

The complex has also become for the left and the catalanist a symbol of profligate spending, financial mismanagement and waste, due to large cost overruns and a large debt burden that the region is struggling under.[5][6]

See also[]


  1. ^ Suzanne Daley, Santiago Calatrava Collects Critics as Well as Fans The New York Times, Sept. 24, 2013
  2. ^ Punto final a la Ciudad de las Artes - Valencia_Valencia - Valencia -
  3. ^ "George Clooney's Tomorrowland Exists in Spain". The Huffington Post.
  4. ^ "Doctor Who: Series 10 filming in Valencia". DoctorWhoTV.
  5. ^ "Calatrava's Valencia Project Attracts the Ire of Spanish Politicians - Businessweek". Business Week. 2012-06-01. Retrieved 2013-02-16.
  6. ^ "Activists Offer Protest Tour Of Spain's Modern Ruins : NPR". NPR. 2013-02-16. Retrieved 2013-02-16.

External links[]

Coordinates: 39°27′15″N 00°21′00″W / 39.45417°N 0.35000°W / 39.45417; -0.35000