contemporary architecture in valencia

The City of Arts and Sciences

The breathtaking City of Arts and Sciences  is a great sample of contemporary architecture in Valencia and also the main destination for photographers heading to this lovely Spanish city. 

Calatrava’s striking project

The City of Arts and Sciences is a large entertainment-based cultural and architectural complex mostly designed by the famous locally born architect, Santiago Calatrava.

This giant and stunning complex covers some 350,000 square meters. It is the Europe’s largest cultural centre. It consists of a series of aesthetically futuristic structures surrounded by huge and shallow pools.

It was created at the end of last century right next to the riverbed of River Turia. The river was drained and then rerouted after the disastrous flood that inundated Valencia in 1957. Since that catastrophic event, the old riverbed has been turned into a 9-kilometer long lovely park. An authentic and welcome lung of green for the city of Valencia.

Every single iconic building thought and designed clearly adopts an organic form.

The Hemisfèric interactive science museum looks like a stretching giant whale skeleton.

Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía arts complex seems to brood over the former riverbed like a giant beetle in its impressive shell shimmering with translucent mosaic tiles.

Calatrava’s striking project is mainly the result of his technical and engineering brilliance that provided the basis for his pioneering concrete, steel and glass creations. His striking project fuse  arts and sciences together into dynamic organic forms and dramatic spaces.

Calatrava designed this complex by having in mind the bright dynamism between blanched curves and rhythmic visual patterns of every single structure. Every single shape of the buildings seems to complement each other and even merge into a harmonic unity.

Despite all the recognized international acclaim for its futuristic architecture, the complex didn’t completely escape criticism. Originally budgeted at €300 million, the City of Arts and Sciences, at the end, has cost nearly three times the initial expected amount. Not to mention the various design flaws that have necessitated major repairs in the last few years.

Valencianos still now complain about the enormous expenses for realizing the complex.  Anyway, they must thank also this impressive Calatrava’s creation if their beautiful city became a major international tourist destination. Also for photographers.

Practical tips for photographers

The City of Arts and Sciences is not just a destination; it’s a canvas waiting to be painted by the lens. Embrace the fusion of art, science, and photography as you embark on a visual journey through this extraordinary urban landscape.

Nestled amidst lush gardens and reflective pools, the City of Arts and Sciences seamlessly blends natural beauty with urban elegance. Photographers can capture the juxtaposition of modernity against the backdrop of the serene Turia Gardens, creating compelling compositions that tell a story of harmonious coexistence.

Immerse yourself in the avant-garde structures that define the City of Arts and Sciences. From the sleek lines of the Hemisfèric to the breathtaking curves of the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, each building presents a unique opportunity for photographers to showcase their skills. The futuristic architecture provides a dynamic backdrop, allowing you to experiment with angles, shadows, and reflections.

Timing is everything, and the City of Arts and Sciences truly comes alive during the golden hour. As the sun dips below the horizon, the buildings take on a warm glow, casting a magical spell over the entire complex. Seize this opportunity to capture breathtaking sunset shots and silhouette the structures against the vibrant hues of the evening sky.

If you are into urban photography, then you can spend a whole day by challenging and experiencing new and creative shots at every angle. The City of Arts and Sciences truly becomes a precious laboratory for developing the photographer’s creativity. Just change angle and perspective, Discovering and framing new and different geometrical lines, elegant curves, contrastful light and shadows.

Shooting tips

  • Visit during different times of the day to capture the ever-changing atmosphere.
  • Utilize a wide-angle lens to capture the expansive architecture and surroundings.
  • Experiment with different compositions to add variety to your portfolio.


Stefano Politi Markovina