Avenida de Europa (The Avenue of Europe), Seville’s Former Expo Pavilion

Avenida de Europa (The Avenue of Europe), Seville's Former Expo Pavilion

photography by: Omri Westmark

When Seville hosted the World EXPO of 1992, the European Union was still in its infancy, functioning as a proto-organization of 12 countries known as the EEC (European Economic Community). As an act of solidarity and unity, the EU’s founding members decided to showcase their multi-national cooperation under one pavilion, known as the Avenue of Europe. 30 years later, the former site still retains much of its original eye-catching architecture, incorporated into a modern hi-tech district.

One year before the European Union was officially founded, the Andalusian city of Seville served as a venue for the 1992 EXPO fair, where more than 100 countries showcased their top scientific and cultural achievements. Though not a sovereign country, the EEC (European Economic Community), otherwise known as the precursor of the EU, was given a full-fledged pavilion surrounded by a large plaza, aptly named “the Avenue of Europe” (Avenida de Europa).

 

Nestled in the middle of the block is the pavilion’s centerpiece, the “Tower of Europe”, a 50-meter-tall structure whose conical metal frame is covered by a couple of plastic sheets, on which the flags of the EU’s 12 founding members are depicted. As the structure is hollowed, it merely served as a roof for the pavilion’s interior parts, located down below. Within the confines of the pavilion, visitors could watch audiovisual shows, take part in interactive videos, or have a look at the complex’s bookstore and souvenir shop, where they could also purchase a copy of the ECU, the common currency that predated the Euro.

 

The main colorful tower is accompanied by twelve cone-shaped counterparts, representing the original countries that constituted the EU. Inspired by the iconic chimneys of the nearby Monastery of Santa Maria de las Cuevas, each of the 30-meter-tall towers features a white sheet that protects visitors from the scorching Sevillian sun.

 

The conical canopies are steeped in a hodgepodge of greenery, art and water, known as the “Garden of Europe”. Sandwiched between Leonardo da Vinci and Camino de los Descubrimientos streets, the verdant avenue is divided into four public squares, varied by distinct style and vegetation. In a two-minute walk along the garden, one comes across a series of sparkling fountains, neatly arranged orange trees and Washingtonia palms, as well as a blue square where dozens of white sculptures interact with wind currents.

 

By the time the exposition has ended, the question of what to do with pavilion remained unanswered for years to come. Initially, the building was designated as the headquarters of a local news outlet. When it never came into fruition, the place was abandoned and fell into a state of disrepair. Two decades later, the former pavilion was incorporated into the surrounding Cartuja Technology Park and repurposed for office space. While its days of glory are long gone, the avenue is still an interesting place to explore, particularly during nighttime, when the colorful flags of the “Tower of Europe” are beautifully lit.

The avenue is surrounded by rows of manicured cypress trees

photography by: Omri Westmark


The Tower of Europe along with its smaller conical counterparts

photography by: Omri Westmark


The vividly colorful Tower of Europe

photography by: Omri Westmark


A smattering of fountains next to a square with orange trees

photography by: Omri Westmark


The white conical towers

photography by: Omri Westmark


A sculpture in front of the main tower, echoing the solidarity and unity among EU’s member states

photography by: Omri Westmark


The wind-sculptures amid the blue square

photography by: Omri Westmark


A verdant square, partly shaded by dozens of Washingtonia palms

photography by: Omri Westmark


The nearby Institute of Statistics and Cartography of Andalusia, formerly part of the Expo complex

photography by: Omri Westmark


The former Mexican pavilion

photography by: Omri Westmark


The former French pavilion

photography by: Omri Westmark