The Atomium in Brussels, Belgium was designed by engineer André Waterkeyn and architects André and Jean Polak for the 1958 Expo 58 which I imagine was a very forward thinking piece of architecture for the 50s. Even now I think it looks ahead of its time and ‘space age’ nearly 60 years on. According to trusty old wikipedia ‘it stands 102 m (335 ft) tall. Its nine 18 m (59 ft) diameter stainless steel clad shares are connected so that the whole forms the shape of a unit cell of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times’ – I’ll take it’s word for it. Regardless it is an awesome structure located just over 6km from the centre of Brussels.We visited the Atomium on a lovely, bright January day. We had a 48 hour bus pass
for the Brussels Hop On, Hop Off Bus and I noticed that the Atomium was on one of the routes so we did exactly what the bus was designed for – we hopped on at Grand Place and hopped off at the Atomium (as did most of the other passengers). It is impressive, as you drive up on the bus it stands out of the greenery surrounding it. A friend of mine visited the Atomium last year and jumped on the metro to get there, you could drive or even walk if you fancy (although not much to see on the way there).
The Atomium was closed for just over a year in 2004 whilst the old aluminium sheets covering the shares were replaced and they now look brand new and shiny, so much so you can see yourself in them.
The Atomium is great to look at and the driveway leading up to it offers a perfect location to take pictures of it (and selfies from). But not only is it great to look at but you can also go inside it for €11 (adult rate). The Atomium is open 365 days a year (however I would check opening times before you visit). This entrance fee allows you full access to all the spheres, including the top one which gives you panoramic views over Brussels and beyond. The top sphere is also home to the Belgium Taste Restaurant, with a capacity of 80 offering a lunch and dinner service. Entrance into an exhibitions which are being displayed are also included in the price.
If you don’t fancy paying the prices in the restaurant there is also a snack shop selling sandwiches, soup, crisps etc with plenty of seating, both inside and out and if that still doesn’t appeal why not bring a picnic and sit on the grass in the shade of the Atomium and eat it? And what do all self-respecting attractions have – the obligatory gift shop of course!
We spent a couple of hours here before hoping back on our bus and heading back to the Old Town but in reality we could have spent longer here. I recommend taking some time away from the city and visiting the Atomium, even if you do not go inside the photographic opportunity from outside is well worth it.