The City of Arts and Sciences (Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias in Spanish and Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències in the local Valenciano language) is the most popular tourist attraction in Valencia. Designed by local architect Santiago Calatrava and built in the dry bed of River Túria, this futuristic cultural complex is unique in the world.
Personally, I don’t know a single soul who wouldn’t agree that this architectural masterpiece is a sight to behold. A few years ago, a friend of mine who was an architecture student at the time, came to Valencia specifically to see these mesmerizing buildings. Yes, they study them in universities around the world! So you certainly don’t want to miss it!
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In This Article
Brief intro to Valencia’s City of Arts and Sciences
Architectural style: Futuristic (for lack of a better term)
Architect: Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela
Year inaugurated: 1998 (more buildings were added later)
Cost: approx 1.2 billion euros
Surface area: 35-hectare
Best known for: Its stunning architecture and for being the main tourist attraction in Valencia.
What to expect when visiting the City of Arts and Sciences
The City of Arts and Sciences is the landmark that single-handedly put Valencia on the tourist map. But this doesn’t mean the City of Arts and Sciences is a place for tourists alone.
Locals love to come here to fill their eyes with beauty, have a picnic with a view, or incorporate the City of Arts and Sciences into their cycling routes. Also, many newlyweds choose the stunning backdrop of the City of Arts and Sciences for their wedding photographs.
I often come here to catch the sunset, but I think this complex can be whatever you want it to be. If you’re visiting Valencia with kids, this is a wonderful place to spend quality time together as a family. If you are on a romantic getaway, it can be the perfect place to walk hand in hand among the blue pools of water. Flying solo? You’ll never feel lonely here!
Ultimately, this is a place where dreams and reality blend seamlessly and where you can relax, recharge, and feel inspired.
The City of Arts and Sciences is free to wander around, but there are fees associated with visiting the attractions. So, if you want to go inside the buildings to see any shows or exhibitions, you’ll need to purchase a ticket.
Buildings that make up the City of Arts and Sciences
The City of Arts and Sciences consists of six incredible buildings and two iconic bridges, each with its unique design and purpose.
1. L’Hemisfèric (The Hemispheric) – An eye-shaped building that houses an IMAX cinema and planetarium, offering an immersive journey into the cosmos and the wonders of our world. Screenings don’t usually exceed 45 minutes.
2. El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe (Príncipe Felipe Science Museum) – Resembling the skeleton of a prehistoric creature, this interactive museum focuses on science-related exhibits, ranging from physics and chemistry to biology and technology. Recommended visit duration: 2-3 hours.
3. L’Umbracle – A landscaped walkway with soaring arches lined with vegetation. One half is home to a collection of Mediterranean plant species and sculptures while the other hosts the select Mya nightclub.
4. L’Oceanogràfic (The Oceanographic) – This watery wonderland is the largest aquarium in Europe, featuring marine life from diverse ecosystems, ranging from the Arctic to the Mediterranean. L’Oceanogràfic is home to the only family of beluga whales in Europe and hosts daily dolphin shows. Recommended visit duration: 4 hours.
5. Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía (Reina Sofia Palace of the Arts) – An opera house and performing arts center with a grand, curvaceous shape that is often likened to a majestic spaceship. It serves as a hub for cultural events, attracting world-class artists and audiences from around the globe.
6. Àgora (CaixaForum Valencia) – A multifunctional space used for exhibitions and events.
7. L’Assut de l’Or Bridge – A cable-stayed bridge designed by Santiago Calatrava.
8. Monteolivete Bridge – A bridge that’s in fact made up of two bridges, the newest one designed by Santiago Calatrava and the older one by Fernández Ordoñez.
These architectural gems are connected by walkways and shallow freshwater pools that mirror the shimmering buildings. This contrast of modern, white structures set against Valencia’s blue skies and the lush greenery of Túria Park creates a visually stunning experience.
What’s more, many of the buildings are covered in shattered white tiles. This is a type of decorative mosaic application known as trincadís, which is commonly used in the Valencia region and Catalonia.
The City of Arts and Sciences in popular culture
The groundbreaking design of the City of Arts and Sciences challenges conventional notions of architecture as it appears to have emerged from a sci-fi movie. In fact, the City of Arts and Sciences stars in several Hollywood movies and TV series, such as Tomorrowland, Westworld, Doctor Who, Intergalactic, and the upcoming Star Wars: Andor.
How to get to the City of Arts and Sciences
From the Old Town, you can get to the City of Arts and Sciences by walking or biking along the Túria Park. You can also use public transport – the buses and the tram will leave you right next to the complex. If you’re coming from another city, driving might be your best option.
- Tram: L10 to Ciutat Arts i Ciències Justícia
- Bus: 13, 24, 25, 35, E-95
- Bike: There are docking stations nearby
- Car: Underground parking available under L’Umbracle
Av. del Professor López Piñero, 7, 46013 Valencia
Admission fee: Free (fees apply to visit the attractions)
Recommended visit duration: 1 hour (more if you choose to visit the attractions)
Dogs allowed: Yes