L’Umbracle is, as the name suggests, a shadow. Santiago Calatrava created this beautiful building in the City of Arts and Sciences. The purpose of the building was to serve as a city park, but that turned out differently than planned. Read on to know why…

The design

The idea behind the design of L’Umbracle is that it is an entrance for the Ciutat de les Arts y les Ciènces. That is why it is a long passage of 320 meters long and 60 meters wide. Skeletal arches of eighteen meters high are placed over the entire length. The intention was that over the course of time ivy could grow to the top of the arches, and this would create a shadow over the gardens, but because of the hot sun the ivy burned before it could reach the top and thus the idea of a shaded city park fell apart. In L’Umbracle Santiago made us of the characteristic white-blue trencadís (small tiles that have been processed in the form of a mosaic). He has processed these in several buildings to express a form of unity. The building is open to the public since 2001.

A beautiful garden

Although L’Umbracle did not become the city park as they expected it to be, the designers did their best to make the garden as beautiful as possible. Every plant and tree that grows here is specially selected, with the characteristic that they change colours every season. You will find large but also small palms that are playfully planted together to create depth, orange trees, different climbing and soil plants and last but not least scented plants such as lavender and rosemary. The entire garden covers about half of L’Umbracle.

Late night

During the day L’Umbracle is a beautiful building to admire, but even in the evening it does not disappoint. The skeleton structure is often illuminated playfully so that it looks even more impressive than during the day. Until very recent parties were organized in the summer months. During these parties the L’Umbracle was transformed into an outdoor Club. Visitors, especially young people, enjoyed dancing between the palm trees and under the stars. Unfortunately, they enjoyed a little too exuberant and thus due to noise disturbance they had to shut down the club. Underground in the basement of L’Umbracle, however, there is a Club called MYA, which may still open its doors for the noise disturbance is much less here. The enjoying could therefore continue, but no longer in the open air.

Events and exhibitions

Fortunately, L’Umbracle is not only admired for its beauty or fun parties for young people. The cultural use of the building has also been considered. For example, culture-rich events and exhibitions are regularly organized. These are usually free, but often also with an entrance fee. Many well-known artists have exhibited their collections here. The most famous exhibition of L’Umbracle is the ‘Garden of Astronomy’. This is a permanent free exhibition where visitors can learn about space and moving the stars, and the public can experiment with many astronomical instruments.

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