Al Wasl

The Heart of the Expo

The Expo site is shaped like a flower with three petals, the center of which is represented by Al Wasl, the large steel dome that will act as the heart of the Expo and the main meeting point. 192 countries from across the globe will gather around it and the national days of the participating countries will be celebrated here. The huge Al Wasl dome is immersive and can host 360-degree screenings; it is the largest in existence. The steel framework supporting it, with sand-colored screens, is equipped with over 200 projectors and creates such a vast structure it could easily contain two Airbus A380 planes.

San Marino Pavilion Location

Each of the three petals forming the flower at the Expo site corresponds to a theme: Opportunity, Sustainability, and Mobility. Each of these thematic districts presents the Pavilions of the countries who built their own structures as well as those countries of the “Thematic District Pavilion” including San Marino, which has its own national Pavilion located in the Opportunity section right near the heart of Al Wasl and adjacent to the Pavilion of the United Arab Emirates.


The Pavilion’s key attraction is the “Treasure of Domagnano.”

The “Treasure of Domagnano” constitutes one of the most spectacular, important, and mysterious finds dating to the Ostrogoth period (around the 5th or early 6th century AD).

It was discovered by accident in 1893 on the Lagucci farm, in the area of Domagnano (Republic of San Marino), but the exact circumstances remain unclear. The archeological find was interpreted as being either the rich grave goods that once belonged to a female or intentionally hidden artifacts (a “treasure”).

The objects can be attributed to an Ostrogoth lady of high rank, member of the court of the King of the Ostrogoths Theodoric the Great (493–526, capital in Ravenna, around 70 kilometers from Domagnano), and consist of 22 pieces, divided into two series: ornamental objects and accessories. The grave goods, characterized by an all-over cloisonné motif, are in gold (its purity ranges from 91 to 98 percent).

Unfortunately, when the objects were found in San Marino there was no law safeguarding artistic heritage. As a result, the landowner sold the treasure to unscrupulous dealers. Today, the treasure is divided between various museums in 6 different countries.

Recreating the Treasure with Experimental Archeological Technology.

In 2004–2006, at the behest of the Rotary Club San Marino and the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio della Repubblica di San Marino – S.U.M.S., an experimental project aimed at recreating the “treasure” was encouraged. The reproductions were then made by the artisan goldsmith Marco Casagrande from Bologna (Italy) and crafted by using techniques compatible with ancient tools, according to the methods of experimental archeology. By combining modern archeological knowledge with medieval goldsmithing techniques the reproduction of the “treasure” was such a success the copies were practically indistinguishable from the original pieces. The recreation of the “treasure” was then exhibited at the Museo di Stato della Repubblica di San Marino in the Local Archeology section.

Why the Treasure: Cultural Diplomacy

The San Marino Pavilion will present to Expo visitors the accurate reproduction of the “Treasure of Domagnano” by gathering in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates “what has been scattered around the world.” The Expo 2020 theme is “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future” and San Marino, with this major act of cultural diplomacy, aims to ideally and virtually connect the 6 countries where the “treasure,” now dispersed, is currently held and on display in different museums, through a series of encounters and conferences that will bring to Dubai the theme of cultural and artistic heritage, national identity, and intercultural dialogue.

The “Domagnano fibula” at the Louvre Museum Abu Dhabi

The “Domagnano fibula”: this is the most important piece in the “treasure” and is currently on view at the Louvre Abu Dhabi (the museum built in 2016 on Saadiyat Island by architect Jean Nouvel), after having been part of the prestigious Lauder Collection in the United States.

The artistic mission of the Louvre Abu Dhabi is to explore the history of world creativity by comparing, in chronological order, the artistic creations of various civilizations from different parts of the world at different times in history.

This mission is extraordinary and represents a new approach to culture and exposition, based on cross-referencing and spreading knowledge.

It is with great satisfaction that San Marino welcomes the decision of the Louvre Abu Dhabi to display the eagle-shaped Ostrogoth brooch: this masterpiece of early medieval jewelry is the most important piece in the “Treasure of Domagnano” and demonstrates the mastery of ancient artisans. The beauty of this specific object enhances the entire “treasure.” It

is a unique work of unparalleled elegance and importance that deserves to be seen in person during your stay in the United Arab Emirates after visiting the San Marino Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.

The Design

The design of the San Marino Pavilion was a long and complex process and began back in 2018 when San Marino adhered to the “Creative Youth Program” promoted by the Expo Organizer and set aside for those countries participating in the “Thematic District Pavilion.”

The winning design concept is by the “Sputnik” team, composed of a group of students: Roberto Alesi, Luca Barbieri, Obi Fidler, Claudia Panfili, and Irene Trotta.


In December 2020, following the competition issued by the Commissioner General for the Pavilion’s communications program and content, the architect Francesco Ammirati, a member of the winning team, completed the Pavilion’s layout by designing the spaces, contents, and objects on display in the Pavilion and the VIP lounge.

To learn more

Pavilion itinerary

Entrance area – Traditions room (past) In this room the archeological reproduction of the “Treasure of Domagnano” will be on exhibit. Currently, it is on view at the Museo di Stato in San Marino. The 22 jewels recreating the “Treasure of Domagnano” will be gathered together in a display case made specifically for the event.

Central area – Tourism (today) The central space is characterized by the presence of 2 video walls facing one another. These will display videos on San Marino’s tourism, food/wine, and craftsmanship that will represent the Pavilion’s true heart with images of events and historical re-enactments; visitors will feel excited and moved and as though they are actually present in San Marino. This room will also host a second object: a traditional crossbow from San Marino as a symbol of the nation’s defense and freedom. This element will be further enhanced during San Marino’s national day when crossbowmen and flag throwers from San Marino will perform for the public.

Final area - Country system (future) This area in the Pavilion will be dedicated to showing, through graphic panels and videos, the “national economic system,” its most important highlights, and how San Marino is an attractive country for new businesses as well as for its own enterprises and residents and for its life expectancy rate, high quality of life, services, and universal healthcare system. We will also show how the country is a unique destination for new investors thanks to ad hoc legislation intended to stimulate foreign investments and real estate opportunities.

In the central section there will be a multimedia interactive table made up of cubes in acrylic (10 cm) creating a map of San Marino and 8 interactive tablets including 2 workstations for visitors in wheelchairs. Each tablet will present a video with a topic that can be seen by each single viewer and also shown on the central video wall.

The multimedia videos and materials will be produced by the Communication Agency and paid for by San Marino.

Sales area - Shop (exit area). This final space of the Pavilion will host its shop offering artisan products, including food/wine from San Marino, and sales merchandising.

Pavilion Staff

The Pavilion staff is composed of the following members:

Pavilion management:

Pavilion Director;

Head of Public Relations, Communication, and Media;

Head of Sales and VIP Lounge;

Head of Technical Aspects, Staff, Accreditation, and Events;

Pavilion operative staff:


cashiers (Arabic spoken) night staff;

cleaning service;

Pavilion volunteers.

Hiring will take place through specific competitions and an application process issued by the Commissioner General. These will be made public, in March 2021, in the Media/Press Area of the web site.