Check out Valencia's sci-fi ultramodern opera house
Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía
Some say it looks like a spaceship, or a sci-fi helmet, but whatever it looks like to you, it certainly doesn't look like an opera house. And yet it is one. Here's a look inside the amazing Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía in Valencia, Spain.
For more about this epic concert hall, check out The sci-fi wonder of Valencia's opera house.
The Palau was designed by Valencian-born architect Santiago Calatrava who has designed incredible buildings all over the world.
Take a tour
The best way to see the whole building is on a tour, which costs 11 euro (about $15, £10 or AU$20).
The smallest venue at the Palau, the Aula Magistral seats 378. It's used for music performances, of course, but also conferences and lectures.
Sun shining in
Various practice rooms line this subterranean passage, which is illuminated by sunlight shining through a partially glass ceiling.
Martí i Soler theatre
The Martí i Soler Theatre is located under the base of the plume arch that seems to float over the Palau. It seats 400 and is primarily used for baroque opera and chamber music performances.
Back, or rather under, stage
Our tour took us underneath the main stage at the Sala Principal, or Main Hall.
The ceiling here is actually the underside of the stage that's currently in place in the Sala Principal. It descends when not in use into the pit at the bottom.
Strike the set
It's a vast space, large enough to hold two complete sets.
The Sala Principal seats 1,412. It's mainly used for opera, but can be configured and used for other performances as well.
Fitting it all in
The grand space with its huge stage also has one of the largest orchestra pits in the world. During my visit, they were working on a set for an upcoming run of "Le nozze di Figaro."
If you don't understand Italian
The back of every seat has a small screen that gives a real-time translation.
The unfinished concrete of the Sala Principal balconies are quite striking.
The Sala Principal stairs have an almost organic spiral.
The same helicoidal stairs, viewed from below. That's me in the picture with Paloma, our excellent tour guide.
The Auditori is the largest venue at the Palau, even larger than the Sala Principal, seating 1,490. The supports give it an organic, inside-a-rib-cage feel.
Concerts and more
Primarily the Auditori is used for symphonic concerts and movie premieres.
There's a small park in the Palau. The terrace functions as a reception and waiting area for the Auditori concert hall.
The famous Spanish sun wasn't bright over Valencia during my early-autumn visit.
Aesthetics and acoustics
Hard, flat surfaces can be an issue when managing the sound of a space. In a combination of aesthetics and acoustics, sections of the rear walls have bowed-out domes to reflect sound away from the listeners.
For your next event
Some of the spaces in the Palau are available for private events so, you know, if you want a spot for your next low-key birthday party.
Water and gardens
The Palau is surrounded by 60,000 square meters (71,759 square yards) of gardens and 11,000 square meters (13,156 square yards) of water.
Tiles for Antoni
Most of the exterior is covered in small ceramic tiles, an homage the legendary Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí.
The Palau is the tallest opera house in the world, at 75 meters, or 246 ft.
When you're hungry
The space at the bottom is the Contrapunto restaurant and bar.
The metal "plume," that arches over the Palau is secured to the footbridge on one end and floats at the other end. It's attached to the building at only one point.
City of Arts and Sciences
The Palau is at one end of the City of Arts and Sciences complex, which has multiple incredible buildings.
Two of the buildings, and the bridge in the distance, together definitely resemble something. I can't put my finger on it, but it's making me hungry.
L'Hemisfèric on its own resembles an eye. The center sphere, the iris if you will, is an Imax theater and planetarium.
Better at night
It's all even more stunning at night.