Atomium, Brussels, Belgium

I’ve been to the capital of Europe countless times. I even lived there for a few months after uni, while I was contemplating what to do with the rest of my life – amongst friends persuading me to join them in diplomatic/bureaucratic service. Idly contemplating, I should hasten to add, involving many a late night and lots of Belgian, eh… cheer.

Going through the blog just now, I discovered I have written absolutely nothing about Brussels – or indeed Belgium. Naught! Rien! Niets! Not even the merest reference to the greatest cartoon character of all time, TinTin.

Well, for shame. This requires immediate amendment. And what better place to begin than with Brussels’ most noticeable landmark. No, I’m not speaking of a certain little boy micturating (yes, that is a word), but something much cooler.

I refer to Atomium, a structure as iconic to Brussels as the Eiffel Tower is to Paris. The Eiffel Tower was erected for the 1889 World’s Fair, Atomium was constructed for the same event in 1958.

Atomium was created by engineer André Waterkeyn and architects André and Jean Polak. It consists of nine interconnected spheres, each representing an iron crystal augmented 165 billion times.

CNN has listed Atomium among Europe’s most bizarre buildings. It’s in good company – with the likes of Gaudi’s Casa Mila, and the Eden Project in Cornwall.

Like the Eiffel Tower, Atomium wasn’t meant to survive beyond the World’s Fair, but 55 years later, it is still standing, like a shining totem to science. I like it!

Atomium practicals

  • The metro from the city centre to Heysel takes about 15 minutes, then walk 5 minutes. Atomium is right across from the miniature village Mini-Europe. (Not that you can miss it.)
  • Open every day 1000 – 1800
  • Entrance fee: €11 adults/€8 students-seniors-children 12+/€6 children 6 – 11. Free for children under 6 and people with disabilities.
  • Combined tickets for Atomium and nearby Mini-Europe are available.
  • There’s a panoramic restaurant in the upper sphere. Bar à Pois is at the foot of the building, offering snacks on the terrace.

Have you seen Atomium? Thoughts?

Linking up with Wanderlust Wednesday this week.