EXPO 2016 - Antalya
EXPO 2016 Antalya is one of the most interesting places to visit in the city and is a real surprise as very few visitors even know of its existence. Sometimes heading to the end of a mass transit line can be a waste of time but in this case it was a memorable few hours almost having the place to yourself.
Getting to EXPO Antalya
EXPO is the end of the T1 tram line which is the main line that connects many important places in Antalya, including the main bus station and the airport using a branch off line. On the journey to the station it starts to get confusing as you will pass a very large Expo centre at Pınarlı station.
The Expo at the end of the line is in fact the venue for the Expo 2016 which was an international horticultural exposition in Antalya and the first international exposition hosted by Turkey. It took place over a six month period and received 4,693,571 domestic and international visitors on the 112 hectare site according to The Bureau International des Expositions, the world governing body for such events.
The feeling is rather strange as you reach Expo station as almost everyone disembarked from the tram at prior stations. There is very little apart from the actual Expo park. There are no directions, so you need to go a few hundred metres north to reach the West Entrance. The main entrance is on the north-eastern side. The entrance look deserted with barriers that longer work. However, there are a few security guards at the gate and admin staff. They are quite welcoming and give you a little explanation of the whole site.
There were offers of transport but given the temperature was not too hot it was better to walk. Then you have the whole site almost to yourself. It is a little bewildering knowing where to begin but they provided a multilingual map which helped enormously. Expect to spend around three hours or so walking around although it may be challenging during the summer heat.
Many countries exhibited their botanic delights at the Expo. Interestingly the African participants were bundled mostly together while other countries were more spaced apart. After five years of neglect many of the structures were decaying but there were some posters and other items still hanging around. The most enlightening was the inclusion of diamonds in Sierra Leone’s horticultural offerings.
Kids Science and Technology Centre
Many of the buildings in the EXPO were shut and this has probably been the situation since the end of the exhibition in 2016. One of these was the science centre although there were plenty of prehistoric critters on dispaly which would delight any children visiting. The theme of the EXPO was “Flowers & Children” so overall the Expo focuses on features that appeal to kids.
Given the five years since the Expo took place most of the plants and flowers have long gone. However there is still an indoor garden that seems connected to some form of research as required as a legacy of the Expo. A wonderful cactus garden remains intact for obvious reasons and some upkeep of the overall Expo site means that you will be still be rewarded with plenty of flora.
Mosaiculture plant sculptures
Wondering around the site will lead you to many interesting mosaiculture sculptures and artworks inspired by children’s drawings. There were supposed to be 108 in total and most seemed to have remained in good condition.
Turkcell Tower and other attractions
The centrepiece building of the EXPO site is Turkcell Tower which can be seen from almost any location. Sadly the tower itself is not open for visitors so you are unable to take the lift to the top. There are many other sights to see at EXPO and best to just stroll around and get lost in this almost ghost town like area.
EXPO Antalya - The Legacy
During the visit on a Sunday in October there were just a handful of visitors to the 112 hectare plot and for most of the time it felt rather eerie being almost alone in such a big site, rather like a science fiction film when you are the last survivor after humanity has been wiped out. It is well worth a visit with so many things to see and great for children. Just be careful of the heat.
There does not seem to have been any further use of the site after EXPO and nothing seems to be planned for the future. Given the environmental focus of the exhibition it seems that much of the development is currently going to waste. With some effort the area could be developed further as a entertainment area and even commercial and residential sectors given its size and also connections with the tram network.
These are some Turkish videos of the EXPO in 2016.