My posts have touched upon the development of the Turia gardens, with glimpses of Cabecera and the Bioparc at the western boundary. Continuing along, past the botanical gardens, we put aside the romantic setting of Monforte and Jardines del Real for another time.
Proceeding along the Turia, as the walkway wraps around the city's lovely old quarter, we meandered along Ricardo Bofill's contemporary layout adjacent to the music palace.
L'Hemisferic -- Photos copyright © Alice Joyce
Now, the spectacle of the City of Arts and Sciences looms: Gleaming white, organic architectural forms in glass, steel and concrete, emphatically proclaiming Valencia's place in the new millennium. Situated amid a 7,000 square-meter green space and sculpture park, completed in 2007, the 'City' arises in a formerly depressed industrial area a few kilometers from the sea. Designed by Santiago Calatrava, the stunning buildings comprise a modern-day mecca of art and technology in the emblematic Palau de les Arts, and Museu de les Ciencies Principe Felipe. Felix Candela designed L'Oceanografic, a marine park.
The entryway to the 'City,' L'Umbracle was designed to conceal. Its form stands atop a parking garage, while Calatrava created sculptural forms sheated in mosaics to house the elevators and mask air conditioning units. A word derived from Latin, l'umbracle is a sort of shade house. In this case, one that captures the imagination. An innovative, open-air public space, the 18-meter-high structure possesses an intrinsic clarity of light for its trove of plants, and terrace for relaxation and receptions: Allees of palms, ornamental vines, and aromatic species include shrubs native to the region, commingling with bitter orange trees, rockrose, plumbago, and buddleja.
L'Hemisferic, a planetarium inspired by the human eye, provides one of the most magical effects, with the head-turning concept of pencil cypresses breaking the surface of the pale blue water encircling the building.
The vast, undulating grounds of the 'City' present a densely planted landscape. Its swathes of herbs and bosks of trees which will braid together as they reach maturity.