Prior to being invited to Valencia, Spain by Tour Spain and Valencia Tourism, I heard two versions to expect of this city that sits along the Mediterranean coast. An industrial town that wasn’t easy on the eyes or at best a nice place to stroll around – neither incredibly enticing – maybe I would find some rustic charm upon arrival? Valencia certainly has plenty of that but it’s the modern 350,000 square meter City of Arts and Sciences, which has revitalized Valencia’s tourism industry that made me feel like a most ignorant and amateur traveler.
Ground was broken on the project in 1994 and construction was completed with the L’Agora in 2005. Since that time, Valencia has seen an increase of 1.2 million plus tourists annually, brought in part by the designs of local Santiago Calatrava and Felix Candela. The complex is made up of 8 futuristic buildings that are nearly impossible to comprehend the aesthetic perfection of – even as you stare right at them.
Within the company of ancient marvels like the Taj Mahal, Great Pyramids, or the Hagia Sofia even, the City of Arts and Sciences has to be one of humanity’s most impressive architectural achievements. Personally, it’s the most incredible architecture I’ve ever seen. There’s no better way to describe it than to say it just makes you feel good. And, to take a leap, there’s the powerful presence of Calatrava’s hometown pride somewhere embedded in all that concrete and steel. (Except for that awkward dinosaur somebody decided it would be a good idea to plunk down in the middle of that pool above.)
Similar to Istanbul’s Basilica Cistern, it’s impossible to get a bad photo of the City of Arts and Sciences. Yet, unlike the Basilica, there are a lifetime’s worth of angles to shoot from. I mean, I’m practically gushing like a teenage girl at a Justin Bieber concert at this metal-marvel plaza whose buildings house cinemas, operas, and one impressive aquarium.
Entry into each of the building vary as each serve separate functions. Prices generally run about 7-30 Euro per building, or you can get a combined pass for all for about 37 Euro. If you’re pressed for time though I’d recommend the Principe Felipe Science Museum (shown below) for those of you with kids or young in spirit; it has interactive exhibits about things from space travel to the physics of the comic book world.
Much of Valencia’s rural outskirts, along with residents, were moved out in preparation for the City of Arts and Sciences. The only things that remains of those old cottages and farmland are the occasional water pumping station, all of which are protected by the local government.
In a part of the world where so much of the tourism focus goes into the old and the ancient, Valencia’s City of Arts and Sciences does what so few tourist attractions can. Rather than making you feel humanity’s best days are behind us, the behemoth City of Arts and Sciences subtly gives you a nostalgia about the present and hope for the future to come.
You can see the rest of my photos from Valencia in this gallery here.
Very modern architecture which I don’t normally like but for some reason this is a really beautiful building! Really like the pool.
It’s the perfect touch, especially with the reflections on the water at night.
I love the architecture there as well It does look stunning against the water.
Absolutely gorgeous architecture but I’m totally with you on the stupid dinosaur that was plunked down in the center of the reflecting pool.
Dinosaurs can almost make anything better, unfortunately it didn’t work here 😛
Very impressive. I generally don’t care much for modern architecture, but this looks very well designed. I didn’t even know it existed.
Same here, it seems to miss many people’s radars, though hopefully that changes in the years ahead.
Valencia’s modern architecture provides plenty of photographic opportunities. Yours are great. I visited Valencia on a cruise several years ago. Unfortunately, I was with relatives who wanted to visit the Llardo Factory. Next time, I want to tour the City of Arts and Sciences.
Did you have paella though? No trip to Valencia is complete without 🙂
Ooh, you caught some breathtaking photos. Interesting building. 🙂
Thanks Jeannie, one of the most fun places I’ve ever taken pictures 🙂
I visited Valencia about 4 years ago just because of these buildings. I found a great city that is definitely overlooked when it comes to Spain tourism.
The figures certainly reflect that but there’s a big push locally to change the momentum. Valencia has so many things going in its travel favor; hopefully it’s only a matter of time before more people realize what a nice city it is 🙂
That is an impressive structure. The last photo is my favorite because of the lines and reflection.
The designers were genius to put the pool there and give it the right location for the best reflections 🙂
I actually like the more modern designs and think it will only help to compliment the other parts of the town. With tourism increasing that much people surely (i hope) aren’t just spending there time in one place. Thanks for the photos Anil!
It’s certainly a big draw but then Valencia gives you million other reasons to stick around 🙂 Fooooood for one…!
The food is awesome especially the piaya Love it!
Excellent shots Anil! Plus – I love the wide photo post! Ah…I see a new camera in your near future! 🙂
Thanks Sherry – I’m nearly ready to pull the trigger on a new purchase 🙂
I have not made it to Valencia yet, but I must that Opera Building building is awesome. I know the Moto GP racing is held in Valencia, is it designed on a motorcycle helmet?
The Opera Building is pretty cool – even the seats are made from the leather manufacturer that makes the same for Ferrari 🙂 On the tours they mentioned several times the design was like that of a Roman helmet, though not sure how much of the design was inspired by it.
Super photos. I can see you had a grey day, yet still managed to get great shots. Calatrava is a brilliant, internationally renown architect, and I am so happy that you included a link about him. He designed our wonderful Auditorium in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, which has lots of echos of the Valencia buildings. It’s his style, flowing, graceful lines. You can see them in the stadium in Athens for the 2004 Olympics. I had no idea that he had designed it, but the moment I saw it I knew it was his design. He is also designing the new Tranportation Hub for the new Trade Center in NY.
Thanks Linda, I give all the credit to the designers. A very tough place to leave without getting some good photos 🙂
As I travel I’ve begun to develop a great appreciation for architecture and was surprisingly touched by the City of Arts and Sciences. Seeing it, being there, that steel and concrete somehow evoked an emotional response. I couldn’t help thinking how it incredible that was – wish I could tell Mr. Calatrava myself.
Makes me want to go with a closer eye to see some of the other buildings he’s designed, including the Auditorium in Tenerife I appreciate you mentioning 🙂