The Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències (Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias) is an entertainment-based cultural and architectural complex in the city of Valencia, Spain. It is the most important modern tourist destination in the city of Valencia. The City of Arts and Sciences is situated at the end of the former riverbed of the river Turia, which was drained and rerouted after a catastrophic flood in 1957.
The old riverbed was turned into a picturesque sunken park. Designed by Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela, the project underwent the first stages of construction in July 1996 and the finished "city" was inaugurated April 16, 1998 with the opening of L'Hemisfèric. The last great component of the City of Arts and Sciences, El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, was presented on October 9, 2005, Valencian Community Day.
In 1989, the then president of the Valencian Generality, Joan Lerma, took up the idea of José María López Piñero, professor of the history of science at the University of Valencia, to build a scientific museum on the land of the Garden of the Turia River that bordered the road with mulberry trees. Lerma entrusted the creation of a team that articulated the project and that visited spaces with similar characteristics in Munich, Canada and London, to devise a project of evident pedagogical appearance. The "City of the Sciences" was the name that the autonomous government gave to the initiative, and plans included a 370m high communications tower, which would have been the third highest one in the world at that time; a planetarium; and the museum of science.
The total price of the works was estimated to be about 25,000 million pesetas, or about 150 million euro. The project did however cause controversy. The Popular Party saw in the City of the Sciences a "work of the pharaohs" that would serve only to swell the ego of the socialists, who were the driving forces behind the initiative. The communications tower was the main object of criticism. Nonetheless, work continued. In May 1991, the council approved the transfer of lands. Four months later the project was presented, designed by Santiago Calatrava. Construction began by the end of 1994. The team that had designed the museum did not see eye to eye with the form in which Santiago Calatrava conceived the building. Therefore, a couple of changes were made.
In April 1998 the complex opened its doors to the public with L'Hemisfèric. Eleven months later, the president of Valencia, Eduardo Zaplana, inaugurated the Prince Felipe Museum of the Sciences, although the museum was not yet finished. The museum was opened to the public twenty months later. December 12, 2002 was the opening of L'Oceanographic, the largest aquarium built in Europe. Finally, on October 8, 2005 the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía was opened and became the opera house of Valencia.