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HOT Attractions - THE SEA INSIDE

Faithfully recreating every marine environment on Earth, Valencia's stunning L’Oceanografic is home to 45,000 different examples of more than 500 aquatic fauna and flora from around the globe. With 42 million litres of saltwater (equivalent to 15 Olympic swimming pools) and extending across 110,000 square metres, it is also Europe's largest aquarium, and is renowned throughout the world for its groundbreaking conservation and research initiatives.

Spain's third largest city after Madrid and Barcelona, Valencia lies 650 kilometres northeast of Málaga, and is a two-hour drive from Murcia. Vibrant and forward-looking, and boasting a whole raft of unforgettable places to see and things to do, the cosmopolitan provincial capital is the perfect city break for a memorable long weekend, never more so than during the current run-up to the 32nd edition of the prestigious America's Cup with the final series of events taking place this summer.

Valencia's stunning L'Oceanogràfic

A remarkable fusion of state-of-the-art technology, breathtaking architecture, and awe-inspiring exhibits and displays, Valencia's L'Oceanografic is a gem of a world-class attraction in its own right. Yet to put into perspective the sheer scope and scale of the city's all-consuming passion for the arts, nature, culture and science, it is only one of the five jewels in the crown that together form the magnus opum of Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava and the late Felix Candela - the spectacular Cuitat de les Arts i de les Ciencies — which, extending across two square kilometres and also comprising the emblematic L'Hemisferic, Museo de las Ciencias Principe Felipe, L’Umbracle and the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, is the envy of many a world capital.

And of all the inspirational futuristic architecture on show at the unique City of Arts and Sciences, the L'Oceanografic (whose main entrance and magnificent underwater restaurant are evocative of water lilies while the appealingly designed structure housing the Red Sea exhibit is reminiscent of a scallop shell), is arguably the most beautiful.

Up close and personal

Although it's impossible not to be enchanted by witnessing the poised performances of dolphins, the endearing gestures of 'smiling' beluga whales, and the ungainly gait totally at odds with the sleek underwater agility of penguins, the more altruistic may question the benefits of any form of captivity. Yet for the L’Oceanografic, which opened its doors in 2002, the principle raison d'être is the conservation and defence of marine habitats and the flora and fauna that they support.

Hand-in-hand with the more obvious attractions and their inherent leisure and entertainment value, the underlying philosophy of the Generalitat Valenciana - in co-operation with an international supervisory committee of leading scientific experts and luminaries — is one of educating future generations so that by understanding that the sea is a delicately balanced ecosystem where all marine life has a vital role to play, they will be better equipped to comprehend the importance of protecting it. To this end, children from as young as four years of age are encouraged to attend a variety of workshops and interactive presentations developed to highlight key environmental issues such as sustainable fishing and the conservation of endangered Mediterranean species, sadly including dolphins, whales, turtles and tuna.

World-class aquaruim

Once embarked upon their discovery of the deep (a multi-sensory experience both visual and virtual), visitors can breathe in the ozone, feel the gentle sea breezes, hear the waves breaking against a rocky shore, and as well as seeing the awe-inspiring biodiversity of marine life from every corner of the globe, may also reach out and gently touch starfish, snails, rays, sea urchins and sea cucumbers.

From underwater vaults and tunnels you can ‘traverse’ the Atlantic from the Canary Islands to Bermuda, see for yourself more than 7,000 examples of Mediterranean marine life, observe the surgeon- and butterfly-fish that inhabit the Red Sea, and marvel at the kelp forests, turtles and giant spider crabs that live in temperate and tropical seas.

The frozen wastes of the Arctic and Antarctic have been carefully recreated and the latter also showcases the work carried out by Spanish scientists both at their Juan Carlos I and Gabrid de Castilla polar bases and aboard the Hesperides and Las Palmas oceanographic investigation ships. The voyage of discovery continues with islands populated by sea lions, fabulous coral reefs, and the wetlands exhibit representing mangrove swamps and marshes. 

The L'Oceanografic also hosts international conferences and symposia, and among its laudable conservation and research programmes is carrying out pioneering work into the behaviour of the little-known beluga whale. And for the hundreds of thousands of visitors who pass through the doors of this benchmark marine park every year, an entertaining, stimulating, educational, and fun family day out awaits.

Please note: Every effort was made to check the accuracy of the information contained within our archived HOT Properties Magazine articles at the time of originally going to press, but may well have been superseded over the ensuing years. They are now made available as historical archival information only. The said information has not been reviewed subsequently for present day accuracy nor has it been updated and we expressly disclaim any duty or obligation to do so. VIVA cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions, nor for the authenticity of any claims or statements made by third parties. We therefore strongly recommend that readers of these archived articles make their own thorough checks before entering into any kind of transaction. Prices were correct at the time of publication but may now vary due to circumstances beyond our control. The views and opinions of editorial contributors do not necessarily reflect those of VIVA .

HOT Properties Magazine Issue 67 - 2007

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