Member Rating 3 out of 5 by billmoy on April 20, 2004

The Atomium is one of the most famous landmarks of Brussels, although it is not in the center of town. It has been compared in iconic stature to that of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, but just as Paris overshadows Brussels to create an unfair comparison between the cities, so does the Eiffel make the Atomium seem less beloved. Still, the giant representation of an iron crystalline molecule (165 billion times the actual size) is impressive at first sight and is perhaps the most notable modern structure in Brussels.

The Atomium was designed by architect Andre Waterkeyn in 1958 as the symbolic centerpiece for the World Fair in Brussels. It consists of nine spheres, constructed of steel coated with aluminum, which are linked by 22 tubes. Each sphere has a diameter of 59 feet, and the highest point of 335 feet can be reached by elevator in under a half-minute. The viewing gallery will offer you interesting views of Brussels, although keep in mind that you are not that close to the central city. The top pod has a restaurant besides the viewing platform. There are also spaces within the spheres for temporary exhibitions. Note that from the lookout just west of the Palace of Justice in the center of town, keen eyes will spot the Atomium miles away as a shiny little jack in the landscape.

The Atomium is scheduled for a thorough renovation which seems to be gradually taking place but should last until at least 2005. It is easily accessible by Metro as well as bus, tram or car. The nearby Metro stop is Heysel, named after the adjacent soccer stadium where an infamous riot in May 1985 took the lives of 38 spectators in the stands.

The nearby Brupark entertainment complex is geared towards grabbing the tourism euro. Mini-Europe is a collection of miniature recreations of European landmarks, if you are too busy to see the real things (look for the Petit Place, or should I say the miniature Grand Place). At the other extreme, the Kinepolis cinema with about 30 screens and an IMAX auditorium compose the largest movie theater complex in Europe. The Oceade water park falls in line somewhere here. Le Village is a string of touristy restaurants and bars.

Atomium Square
Brussels, Belgium, 1020
32 (0)2 475 47 75

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