Artist and adventurer Rachel Pohl and photographer Max Lowe on top of the Hemisfèric during their promotional action for the film America Wild: National Parks Adventure at the City of Arts and Sciences, transformed into a mountaineering site. The film was shown at the Hemisfèric. Photo: EFE/Manuel Bruque

Valencia’s Hemisfèric turns 20

Santiago Calatrava’s iconic building resembling an eye at the City of Arts and Sciences has been hosting audio-visual events for the past two decades.

The Hemisfèric, the first building to open its doors at the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, is celebrating its 20th anniversary. It lifted its eyelid for the first time in 1998 to show all kinds of digital screenings, representations of the night-time sky, and large-scale shows.

Designed by architect Santiago Calatrava, the Hemisfèric was the first building to open in Valencia’s cultural and architectural complex. Resembling a giant eye, it is a concrete ovoid 110 metres long and 55.5 metres wide. The eyelid (shutter) opens to reveal the big sphere, which is the film auditorium, featuring a 900-square-metre concave screen.

The Hemisfèric was a turning point in the history of Valencia, as the first step in the ambitious urban development plan for the eastern part of town. Moreover, it has become a major reference among audio-visual venues in Spain, with over 75 shows and more than 9 million visitors so far.

The equipment includes 48 large-screen projectors for slides and videos, and a powerful sound system. The Hemisfèric can seat 300 people. It features a magnificent planetarium and a projection hall, specially equipped for science and technology films.

Big celebration

To celebrate the Hemisfèric’s 20th anniversary, the Spanish filmmaker Gracia Querejeta shot Canasta, a short film showing the value of this building as a top tourist attraction and an iconic cultural and entertainment venue. Based on a script by Querejeta and Antonio Mercero, the film will be premiered at the Hemisfèric on 26 April.

The anniversary programme also includes a short film competition for emerging directors – Fèric –, giving out a 2000-euro prize.

On the occasion of Gracia Querejeta’s film premiere (26 April), the buildings’ perimeter ring will be open to the public. Usually, it is a restricted area.

From 27 April to 30 June, visitors can get special tickets for the Hemisfèric for five euro. There will also be a poster exhibition commemorating the films shown in the past 20 years. And there will be major premieres like that of the film Dream Big: Engineering Our World.