Category A1 International Horticultural Exhibition

25/04/2003 - 12/10/2003

A Seaside Park. A new flowered world

Official Designation
IGA Rostock 2003 – Internationale Gartenbauausstellung 2003 Hansestadt Rostock

Area (ha)




IGA 2003 was Germany’s fifth Horticultural Expo organised under the auspices of the BIE, after receiving recognition from the General Assembly on 12 June 1997. Located in Rostock, within the region of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, it was the first major event to be staged in former East Germany following reunification, serving as a catalyst for development in the area.

In a nod to World Expo 2000 in Hannover, the theme of IGA 2003 was “Mensch – Natur – Wasser” (Mankind – Nature – Water), highlighting the importance of humanity’s relationship with the environment and Rostock’s location at the mouth of the Warnow River on the Baltic Sea. Developed on a parcel of undeveloped land along the riverbank, the Expo was nicknamed “the Green Expo by the Sea”.

Expo organisers opted to incorporate as many natural elements as possible within the Expo site, making use of existing streams and designating protected areas of existing vegetation. The water element of the Expo was emphasised by the number of water features (IGA on the Water), the remodelling of the riverbank (IGA on the River), as well as three floating gardens anchored on pontoons by the shore (IGA in the River).

Other highlights of the Expo included a rose hill with over 10,000 roses, a 15-metre Willow Dome, as well as the seven gardens of the city of Rostock, which told seven different seafaring stories. To appreciate a panoramic view of the whole site and beyond, visitors could take a cable car offering a 2.8km journey around the main gardens.

One of the most eye-catching parts of the Expo site was the Garden of Nations, gathering the individual gardens of 23 international participants. Visitors could discover creative and exotic approaches to horticulture from across the world, including Middle Eastern palm trees, a Chinese bamboo pavilion, Greece’s Aegean Garden, and Austria’s "Garden of Women".

After welcoming 2.6 million visitors during the Expo, the site became a brand new park and recreation area for the city of Rostock. Still named “IGA-Park Rostock”, 12 national gardens remain in place alongside many of the site’s natural flora such as reeds, sea buckthorn and willow. As a pleasant and modern public space, the park hosts a number of cultural, educational and recreational events throughout the year.

IGA 2003’s legacy also lies in the significant improvements to infrastructure that were a key part of the Expo’s preparation. Over 500 million euros were invested in the years leading up to the Expo, with key projects including a tunnel under the Warnow and a new highway junction.