The Atomium


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Atomium seen from the metro station


This monument, that is designed by the engineer André Waterkeyn and architects André and Jean Polak (all Belgians), was originally constructed specifically for the Brussels World's Fair in 1958 (also called Expo 58). It was supposed to just last for a period of 6 months. But the building turned out to be pretty popular and after multiple postponements of its demolishment, the decision was made to just keep it.

Nowadays it functions as a museum and is it known as one of Belgium's most popular tourist attractions.

On the last day of my trip to Brussels, I thought: Stephan, you cannot leave the city without a trip to the Atomium.

The Atomium can be found north of Brussels. I took a metro (line 6) and got off at the Heizel/Heysel station. From there it's just a five-minute walk to the Atomium. The neighborhood is very different compared to the busy streets of Brussels that I was roaming the days before. I mean, of course, it was crawling with tourists, but there is more space and fewer buildings in this area.

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Frog view of the Atomium

You can see the Atomium already when you're walking over the carpark near the metro station. Its steel spheres shining in the sunlight (if the sun shines of course...). With its 102 meters in height, the Atomium symbolizes a unit cell of an iron crystal. Of course, we all know a cell is not this huge... They magnified it a spectacular 165 billion times(!) Originally the spheres were made from aluminum. But in the period from 2004 to 2006, renovations took place where the faded aluminum plates were replaced by stainless steel.

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Front side and upper sphere

Getting closer to this landmark you will notice that there is an entrance under the lower sphere. The three outer spheres are not open for public (due to safety reasons), but you can visit all the other spheres. They are connected via stairs and escalators. The top sphere can only be reached by elevator. Here's what you can find in the different spheres:

  • The level 1 and 2 (lower) spheres have permanent exhibitions about the Expo 58 and a recap of the 50's.
  • The level 3, 4 and 5 (middle) spheres have temporary exhibitions.
  • The level 6 (top) sphere serves as a lookout point and houses a panoramic restaurant. From here you will have a great view of Brussels. They say that on a bright day you can even see the harbor of Antwerp. I mean, that's like 50 kilometers away.

If you're not a fan of heights, just walk the surroundings of the Atomium. It's really cool to see this remarkable landmark from different angles. The reflections in the spheres and the sharp lines in combination with the circles create a new image every time.

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Back side and close-up shot

Thanks for reading and I hope you will visit the Atomium when you find yourself in Brussels one day. You can, of course, discuss whether you think it looks nice or not, but the Atomium is just one of these things you just need to visit once in your life.


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