Granada’s Science Park

Social life in the south of Spain soon becomes routine, we enjoying the sun, beach, bars & tapas, the views, the helpful Ayuntamiento, and a drowsy life-style which is why a change, especially an exciting one, is always welcome. And this is what I found in Granada when I visited El Parque de las Ciencias (a.k.a. the Science Centre).

This beats afternoon bingo any day. The complex is huge and covers the most important aspects of our lives. And like a good science centre should be, it is intensely interactive, which not only serves to teach us about our surroundings & ourselves, it makes it great fun both for adults & children (I figure that even your pet duck would love it).

Getting there is painless; there is a large underground parking lot from which you climb steps to the spacious main lobby. Friendly members of the staff approach you with information as to what to do; as we were kind of lost upon arriving because the place is so big.

Our first stop: A Journey through the Human Body. If after leaving this exhibition you haven’t learned anything, then perhaps you should donate your body to medical science so others can at least learn from you, because it is packed with information: blood, organs, disease, genetics, eyes, language, you name it, it’s there. Learn that the surface area of our lungs amounts to a whopping 75 square meters; and observe the cranial evolution that gave rise to Lucy and Homo Sapiens.

After being bodied-out, we wandered among the animals. Talk about a stuffed turkey, Batman! It’s taxidermy gone mad, with incredible & compelling scenes of tigers hunting wild boar, and pensive giraffes. There’s an endless array of exhibitions, both temporary & permanent, all attractively organised indoors & out. All displays, objects & exhibits are in Spanish & English, with buttons galore to push and countless levers too; there’s more videos than on YouTube; and everything is engineered to instruct the visitor, to smash silly myths and, where possible, to entertain (although the smoker’s lungs didn’t exactly make me laugh).

The tropical butterfly house, set up as a leafy jungle with flowing waters patrolled by turtles, reveals the delicacy of ecosystems as the wonderfully coloured creatures flutter about. Wonder through Darwin’s modest museum & learn about his dangerous idea and travels. Play with the artfully constructed mechanics of water, gravity & wind and see how we often get things done by using straightforward physical principles. Learn why mirrors can confuse the mind & how science gave us Hollywood by discovering basic facts about the retina. Manipulate Marvin the android into paranoia, sadness, Love and to scratching his right ear. See velociraptors attack, Cretaceous herbivores fall, & brontosaurus stampedes.

And once you’ve finished the grand tour, which easily takes five or more hours if you want to see everything (although I would recommend repeat visits, just as science is based on repeatability, not speed), you will learn via Foucault’s Pendulum that the earth revolves.

Phew! It’s impossible to describe it all, but I will add that there’s a planetarium, you know, where you sit under a huge dome of stars, learn about the cosmos, and think, Pink Floyd, Man!

To conclude: the whole park communicates two important things: knowledge & health. The underlying message could be interpreted as, “knowledge is healthy.”

Parque de las Ciencias: Open 10 – 7 Tue-Sat; 10-5 Sun & holidays; Adults 6€, reduced for children, students & senior citizens
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