Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Valencia - City of Arts and Sciences in the Turia Riverbed

Valencia is the third largest city in Spain, after Madrid and Barcelona, and its port is the busiest container port on the Mediterranean.  Founded by the Romans in the 2nd century BC, the historic old town is one of the largest in Spain.

Valencia has built a futuristic City of Arts and Sciences, including a planetarium, an aquarium, an opera house, and an interactive science museum, all located in the Turia river bed, now dry, turned into a fabulous park.  The river was prone to floods and has previously caused significant property damage and death.  Tiring of this after a particularly large flood in 1957, Valencia diverted the river out of the city and turned the riverbed into a great playground for the people.

It takes a while to walk out of the port, but eventually, we arrive at the riverbed and the City of Arts and Sciences.  We first come across the Assut de l'Or Bridge (El Ponto de l'Assut de l'Or), crossing the dry riverbed between the Science Museum and the Ágora concert/exhibition/sport center.  Built in stages between 1994 and 2009, the City of Arts and Sciences is a key tourist destination in Valencia, but we're here for a day to walk around and experience the city, so we just wander through the complex and don't enter any of the enticing buildings (we need to come back).

 Ágora center on one side, Oceanographic museum behind it

 Principe Felipe Science Museum on the other side

 El Ponto de l'Assut de l'Or

Walkway past the science museum

The Principe Felipe Science Museum (El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe) occupies three floors within a structure that resembles the skeleton of a whale, providing a highly interactive visitor experience.   After the Science Museum, we pass the Hemisfèric, a 3D cinema built to resemble a giant eye, with a 900 meter concave screen.


Alongside is the Umbracle, a huge, open-access garden of sculptures amid plants indigenous to Valencia, designed for wandering, admiring the art, or sitting and enjoying the Mediterranean weather


Next, the Palau de les Arts concert hall, with opera, ballet, and music concerts.

 Palau de les Arts

The water features surrounding the buildings in the City of Arts and Sciences are incredible.  People rent boats in the lagoons and walk across the water in the round bubbles,

 Water features everywhere

But, enough of the City of Arts and Sciences, we're walking to the old town and we continue through the riverbed park, with the old town coming up on the left and new Valencia on the right.

 Beautiful walkways

More water features along the paths

 Guilliver (from Gulliver's Travels) as a playground

 And, expansive views

After about 3.5km (2.2 miles), we reach the Torres de Serranos gate into the old town, enter, and start to wander (next post).

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