Today, the amazing structures are still there, but virtually no one visits.
Created by some of the world’s leading architects, the buildings were commissioned for the Universal Exposition of Seville (or Expo 92, as it became known) to celebrate the modern age and offer blueprints for the future.
They were supposed to be temporary, scheduled for demolition in the months that followed the Expo.
That didn’t happen.
Today many of the buildings still stand as beautiful and sometimes bizarre snapshots of a golden era of recent architectural and political history.
Now incorporated into a science and education park, they’re also a symbol of hope for a country struggling to get back on its feet after near economic collapse. (Or as some in Seville see it: expensive relics of an event that left the city saddled with debts for many years.)
Yet the crowds of tourists that flock to Seville to see its traditional attractions — the bull ring, the ancient cathedral and the Real Alcazar palace — rarely venture across the broad canal that separates the city from the Expo site, on the Isla de la Cartuja.
Science fiction landscape
That’s a shame, because not only is the site an Instagram paradise of sometimes post-apocalyptic science fiction landscapes — almost completely deserted on evenings and weekends — it’s filled with stories.
“Where else in the world can you find so many different examples of valuable architecture from this period?” asks Angel Aramburu, who as president of the Asociacion Legado Expo Sevilla leads a group dedicated to promoting and preserving the remaining buildings.
The group leads occasional tours of the site, filling visitors in on the fascinating gossip and intrigue behind the various structures.
A facade resembling the Casino de Monte Carlo hides a building full of fish. Monte Carlo’s aquariums were later given to Seville’s river authorities who use them to study local aquatic life.
Architecturally nothing special, but the 1992 graffiti (the Twitter of its day) that still covers its external pillars testify to the Expo popularity of a giant cinema screen that had people lining up for hours.
Such were the queues for the Canadian pavilion that one wag carved a complaint in a column outside: “I came in the arms of my mother, I left as a granny!!”
Alas, this didn’t even make it to the Expo, burning down before it opened.
An adjoining Omnimax (an IMAX variation) theater survived, but because of the fire it was later demolished to make way for a 38-story tower block, the tallest building in Seville.
“I know it’s progress,” says Aramburu, “but I’d rather have the Omnimax.”
Contact the Asociacion Legado Expo Sevilla at email@example.com