Day two on our week-long journey into the azure world of aquariums takes us to Spain, which is just a short hop, skip, and 3,000 mile swim away from yesterday’s featured Georgia Aquarium. The massive L’Oceanografic is Europe’s largest aquarium, holding 11 million gallons of water. Of course, saying that it holds that much water is kind of meaningless, isn’t it? I have trouble visualizing how big 100 gallons of water is, let alone 1 million.
So, let’s not dwell too heavily on its dimensions and how many visitors it gets in a year. Let’s focus on all of the really cool stuff, like what exhibits they have and the architecture.
Yes, the architecture is definitely worth mentioning. Designed by famous Spanish architect Felix Candela, L’Oceanografic has a rather unique and beautiful style. Large, sweeping white arcs, a bit like those of the Sydney Opera House, reach towards the sky. A sheet of reflective glass covers the front of each arc, making it appears as though the building is a wave rising out of the water. On top of all that, it’s in the middle of a lake, so it truly does bring to mind images of tsunami waves.
There are two such arc-like buildings, which are the most eye-catching features in the L’Oceanografic grounds (or should I say “lakes?”). Unlike most aquariums, which space their exhibits in a maze-like building, L’Oceanografic places each attraction in plain view. Want to visit the marshlands exhibit? Go check out the giant, transparent dome. If you’re interested in watching some dolphins romp around, visit the dolphinarium on the far end of the park. This layout gives L’Oceanografic a sort of amusement park feel, as families can throw on some flip-flops, enjoy the sun, grab some overpriced sweets from vendors, and marvel at vibrant fish.
When you’re really ready to submerge yourself, so to speak, in marine life, you can descend down any of L’Oceanografic’s nine underwater towers. Glass tunnels allow you to walk along the bottom of the aquariums, giving you a first-hand look at what it would be like to live as a crab scuttling along the bottom of the ocean floor.
And just to be thorough, the L’Oceanografic also has a greenhouse garden, pelicans, ducks, swans, storks, seals, and beluga. It’s really only one or two lions away from hitting zoo territory.