Remembering Expo’98 / Guardian of memories

Just a stone’s throw from the Gare do Oriente station, the Meliá Lisboa Oriente hotel was a privileged observer of the greatest event in Portugal’s recent past: Expo 98. On 1st February 1998, the hotel opened its doors to welcome the international delegations to the World Exposition, and was there every step of the way on this great adventure.

Even before it had ended, we were all missing Expo 98. It left an indelible stamp on the Portuguese and on visitors from abroad – it was deemed the best Expo ever, a distinction granted by none other than the Bureau International des Expositions.

As a guardian of unique and never-to-be-repeated memories, the Meliá Lisboa Oriente evokes this great moment in time. To this end, it is inviting everyone – whether or not they are staying at the hotel – to set sail on a journey across the oceans, the theme of the exposition. An adventure which may be virtual, exploring the contents of this site, and sensory, by visiting and staying at the hotel, and walking around Parque das Nações (formerly the Exposition precinct).

Make your way through the various different menus, discover (or rediscover) what Lisbon’s east end used to look like before Expo ’98, find out how the exposition was organised and get to know the main architectural landmarks the event bequeathed to the city.

We hope that this “trip” not only excites you but also whets your appetite to find out more about this great moment in Portugal’s history!


Ogg Audio



The Executive Committee of the National Committee for the Commemoration of the Portuguese Discoveries was mandated to submit a memorandum to the government regarding a possible International exposition in Lisbon, in 1998. Portugal’s candidacy was formalised at the end of the year with the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), via a letter signed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs.


Formation of the Working Group for the Lisbon International Exposition of 1998, presided over by António Mega Ferreira. At a meeting, the Group unanimously approved the theme “The sea, the oceans”
At the end of the deadline for the submission of alternative bids, the Canadian city of Toronto formalised its bid


The location of the exposition was announced at a press conference: the east end of Lisbon, bordered downstream by the Doca dos Olivais dock and upstream by the Solid Waste Treatment Plant
The Committee for the Promotion of the International Exposition of 1998 was formed in February
At the end of the year, the BIE team went on a fact-finding mission to Lisbon


The General Assembly of the BIE decided that the Portuguese capital would host the exposition (23 votes in favour against 18 to Toronto)


The project entered a period of rapid planning and development, from the international promotion strategies to the domestic awareness campaigns, and negotiations to clear the area where the exposition was to be held
Formation of the Commissariat and of the company Parque EXPO ’98, S.A., responsible for launching and executing the enterprise
Approval of the metropolitan structure and land use plan for an area of 330 hectares, which was to house the exposition precinct, then designed to cover 50 hectares, and launch – within the remit of UNESCO – of the idea to proclaim 1998 as the International Year of the Oceans


Approval of the precinct content plan, with the themed pavilions and international zones; negotiation of the construction of the modules which would be placed free of charge at the disposal of the participants and the subsequent reuse thereof by the Lisbon International Exhibition Centre; defining of the then most modern aquarium in the world, the Lisbon Oceanarium, whose construction began at the end of the year.
The UN declared 1998 as the International Year of the Oceans

1995 e 1996

Years during which site was consolidated and constructed. Little by little, the land which had already been cleared of the obsolete structures which had been located there began to take shape, with the North and South International Areas, the Portuguese Pavilion, the Future Pavilion, the Knowledge of the Seas Pavilion, the Oriente Station, …
First international promotional campaigns and defining of the new goal: to achieve the participation of 100 countries and organisations (there were 160), with the precinct being extended
Whilst the major road access systems were being laid out, work was being carried out to create the new underground line to the Exposition site
Construction of the Vila Expo town to the north of the precinct – a group of buildings intended to house employees and international participants.


Expectations exceeded, vis-à-vis the number of participants and sponsorship revenue
Start of construction of Camões Theatre, Virtual Reality Pavilion, Video-Stadium/Sony Plaza
Assembly of contents, approval of the 100 Days Festival Schedule prior to the exposition, negotiations with restaurant franchisees, roads paved, street art orders placed…


At 18:18 on 21st May, the then Head of State Jorge Sampaio, “with great honour and joy”, declared the Lisbon International Exposition of 1998 open.