Thursday, 30 October 2014

Valencia City of Arts and Sciences

We are having a lazy day today - only three dips in the sea - after having
Gargoyle guarding the Pont del Regne 
walked ourselves a tad too far around Valencia yesterday. For our second day in the city, we decided to visit the spectacular Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias which was designed by Santiago Calatrava and Felix Candela. The architecture itself makes the area worth a visit and we spent a good while staring up and across at bizarre structures that are reminiscent of some ancient sea creature lurking in pools of sparkling clear water. Of course, building the whole complex had gone catastrophically over budget by the time it was completed in 2005 so there is a degree of controversy locally. However from the tourist point of view, it was a must see for us!

In a departure from our usual practice, we actually paid up to go inside two of the buildings instead of just gawping for free from the outside. L'Hemisferic resembles a giant eye and houses an IMAX cinema. We were able to see a fascinating short film, narrated by Miranda Richardson no less(!), which explored the discoveries made by astronomers using the Very Large Telescopes in the Atacama desert. Some NASA footage was shown too including stunning close-ups of the surface of Mars. I've not visited an IMAX before. Is the seating always so steeply tiered or is this due to L'Hemisferic's shape?

The second building for us was El Museo de les Ciencias. This huge interactive gallery is spread over four floors and contains seemingly endless fun exhibits covering a wide range of sciences. It is the perfect place to go if you have school-age kids or if you are a big kid yourself! There's so much to see and almost all the exhibits are practical. We saw ourselves through a thermal imaging camera and I failed to build a roman arch - it fell down. We made a tornado and tried to grab a metal spiral that turned out not to be there at all. The museum even has a big Foucault Pendulum hanging from the roof.

I was wrong about Cabanyal being the closest railway station to La Ciudad and we ended up going to Valencia Del Nord and walking from there. We chose to head straight for a huge park that bisects the city along the original route of the now-diverted River Turia. This is a wonderful space that includes grassy lawns, trails, shaded areas, flower beds, more joggers and cyclists than we could shake a stick at (note to self - take more sticks next time!) and all of the length that we saw was neat and well-cared-for. A great resource for city dwellers and tourists alike. The scary gargoyle pictured was one of a pair guarding one end of the Pont Del Regne bridge. It vaguely reminded me of the one in Ghostbusters and I thought the image best suited for this almost-Halloween post. Unfortunately, I am yet to find out who the sculptor was so more Googling needed.

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