A short jaunt across the river from the narrow medieval streets of Seville is a neighborhood dotted by decaying remnants of its futuristic world’s fair. Interspersed with science and tech company headquarters and the odd government building, the rusting reminders of the exposition provide a poignant juxtaposition between the old and new.
Organized 500 years after Columbus landed on the shores of the New World, the Universal Exposition of Seville (known as Expo ‘92) was themed “The Age of Discovery.” More than 100 nations participated in the event, which drew more than 40 million visitors to the 215-hectare site.
While many of the pavilions were demolished after the fair closed, some structures were left to slowly decay over time. It’s still possible to admire its former features like a geodesic globe, a rocket ship shell built on a 1:1 scale, and a colorful obelisk known as the Tower of Europe. A canal that once flowed to an artificial lake now runs dry, parched and overgrown with yellowed grass.
A portion of the expansive zone has been reconstructed as a theme park called Parque Isla Mágica. Some other areas are today cordoned off with construction fences, another sign that the slow march of progress only pauses for a time, but does not stall forever. During evenings and weekends, the streets, still stamped with the seal of the 1992 event, seem eerily quiet.