The silence of space may be overwhelming, and can make us feel lonely. On the contrary, the underwater silence paradoxically is full of life - even when we dive very deeply, and we’re surrounded only by cold and darkness. However, we don’t have to wear a diver’s suit in order to get acquaint with the vibrant and colorful world beneath the water surface. Standing in front of the giant panes in one of the numerous European aquariums can be equally exciting. The biggest and most famous ones offer visitors a contact with the tranquility of the seas and the opportunity to see how busy is the life underwater.
Number 3 – Oceanário de Lisboa
One of the most popular European aquariums is located in Lisbon. Oceanário de Lisboa was built in 1998, and each year is visited by over a million of tourists. As befits such a modern design, the aquarium is actively involved in a public education - every visitor can not only admire the flora and fauna of the underwater world, but also learn how to take care of the environment. The building is divided into four zones located around the central aquarium, and each of them has two floors. Thanks to this, tourists can enjoy the beauty of the flora and fauna both from the top and from under the water level. For example, in the section devoted to Pacific Ocean we can see funny otters, to Antarctica - penguins, however, the section of Indian Ocean shows us fabulously colorful landscape of coral reefs with amusing Fugu fish.
The biggest attraction of the aquarium is the giant container (1 thousand m² and 5 thousand m³) with four massive windows (49 m²). Approximately 100 species of marine life from all over the world live there. The temperature in the container is maintained at a level that allows the coexistence of tropical fish and those living in moderate temperature. Here, we can see, among others, ethereal rays, pulsating shoals of tuna, which looks like one body scattered in the water, as well as a silhouette of a shark looming somewhere in the background. Not only the residents of the seas are allowed to swim in the aquarium, but also divers, who want to feel like in a real ocean.
The entrance for people aged between 13-64 years, costs from 13 to 16 Euros (depending on whether you want to see everything or just permanent exhibitions).
Number 2 – The Blue Plane
Another amazing place is the Danish aquarium, The Blue Planet. It was built in 2013 in Copenhagen and inspires respect by its size - it consists of 53 aquariums in which live 450 species of fish. The largest container is a real giant (8 meters high and 16 meters wide). Just like in this of Lisbon, the windows are made of exceptionally strong acrylic glass. The building itself catches the eye with its construction - its amazing shape resembles a ship of visitors from another planet.
Also while strolling around the corridors of this giant building, we can feel like on the board of a spaceship. Streaks of light casted by shimmering water gently touch the walls made of steel, and the silhouettes of big fish mingle with those little ones. Thousands of fish glides at the eye level of the audience, as well as over their heads – some of the aquariums were placed in the vaults of showrooms. People can see for themselves, how extremely small they are in comparison, for example, with sharks.
Experts estimate that the Aquarium will attract about 700 thousand of tourists every year. Tickets for adults cost 160 DKK (about 30 U.S. Dollars), and for children - 95 DKK.
Number 1 – L'Oceanogràfic
Leading position on the list of the Europe’s largest aquariums proudly holds Spanish L'Oceanogràfic. It’s located in Valencia, and apart from aquariums, the complex also includes a dinosaur park, cinema and the Museum of Science. L'Oceanografic, opened in 2002, fully deserves to be called a giant. It consists of nine two-storey towers inhabited by 500 species (45 thousand animals). There’re ten thematic areas - including the water areas devoted to Antarctica, Arctic, Red Sea and Mediterranean Sea. Apart from the fish, we can see there sharks, walruses and penguins.
The queen of aquariums tempts not only with the richness of the flora and fauna. Tourists are also attracted by a huge dolphinarium and underwater restaurant. It’s located in the middle of the lake and consists of two levels. On the lower one the "room" is constructed from huge windows, so you can eat dinner while admiring thousands of sea creatures.
A trip to L'Oceanogràfic isn’t cheap, but really worth the price. The entrance costs range between 21 - 27.90 Euros. The tickets are valid 1, 2 or 3 days, and it’s the best to book them two days before the planned visit – it’s very important especially during high season, when the aquarium is besieged by crowds of tourists.
Underwater world behind the window
If because of the lack of time, or some other reason, we won’t be able to visit the aquarium, on the occasion of being in Berlin, we should take the opportunity and see the world's largest cylindrical aquarium. The talk is about stunning AquaDom at Radisson Blu Hotel Berlin in Mitte. An elevator glides through the center of the construction, so you can combine the business with pleasure and ride it while enjoying 97 species of fish swimming behind the glass.
There’re few more aquariums in Europe, maybe not as impressive as those described here, but also amazing. It’s worth to get to know them, because that’s the opportunity for us to sit down, relax next to the giant window panes, and forget about the hectic world.