World Exhibition – (General International Exposition 1st Category)

27/04/1935 - 03/11/1935


Official Designation
Exposition universelle et internationale de Bruxelles 1935

Area (ha)


Participants (Countries)


Expo 1935 Brussels was the first World Expo to be organised under the auspices of the newly created Bureau International des Expositions. It was registered during the organisation's third General Assembly on 27 October 1932.

Celebration of improvements in transport

In 1935, Belgium celebrated the centenary of the creation of its first railway. Transport was thus chosen as the theme of the Expo. On the facade of the Exhibition Palace, some allegories of Belgium's transport system can be seen: aviation, shipping activities, steam locomotive... This anniversary was an opportunity for Belgium and the other participating countries to revisit the progress made in a century, in terms of transportation. The public could also visit the prototype of an "ideal" railway station.

Synergy between art and technique

The Expo provided visitors with an overall view of human production. Thus, technical skills and art were celebrated in all their diversity. In order to concretise these goals, the architect Joseph Van Neck was chosen to design the masterplan. His expertise in terms of International Expos made him the best person to manage such a building site. He succeeded in making the site a harmonious and well-designed place. The main construction, the Exhibition Palace, was an imposing structure made of reinforced concrete. The use of this material evidenced that innovation was at the core of the exhibition.

Major firms at the Expo

Besides pavilions linked to industry, many companies participated in the Expo. Two of them launched some new products specifically for the occasion not knowing that these products would become very popular. The Lancôme Company exhibited its first perfumes and the chocolate maker, Côte d'Or, produced its chocolate miniatures used as samples. Nowadays, they have become a flagship product of Côte d'Or.

Heysel: a new site created

Brussels and Belgium gained a lot from Expo 1935. From an economic point of view, it allowed the country to recover from the economic crisis of the 30's. It was also an opportunity to renew the Heysel area which was abandoned. Indeed, major developments were made. Today, the Exhibition Palace and the surrounding buildings constitute the "Brussels Expo" complex, which 23 years later was also used as the site of Expo 1958.