The Atomium in Brussels, Belgium

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© – SABAM 2010 – Kurt Buzard (this ridiculous little statement is required by Belgian law or I get sued)

Since we are going to Paris this summer, I thought I would post about a famous European monument similar to the Eiffel tower but located in Brussels, the Atomium. We traveled to Amsterdam and Brussels a few years ago and I thought I would share some snaps.

Like the the Eiffel tower, built for a world expo in 1889, the Atomium was built for a world expo in 1958. Also like the Eiffel tower, it was scheduled for demolition after the the expo but has lived on as a symbol of the city of Brussels. The Atomium was the main pavilion and symbol for the World Expo of 1958, the balls were used as conference rooms and the tubes have stairs. The structure is 102 meters high and has 9 spheres oriented in the form of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. For the fiftieth anniversary it was completely renovated, the original aluminum covering of the spheres was replaced with stainless steel. Today it contains a museum and a small children’s hotel (where they sleep in spheres) and is the most recognizable symbol of Brussels, home of the European Union.

The monument was constructed to represent a vision of peace and prosperity through science and technology, particularly directed toward the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Today, the vision is the same, perhaps slightly clouded by the Fukushima, Chernobyl and Three Mile Island meltdowns. As Diane Hennebert, former Director of the Atomium, has said:

“The story of the Atomium is, above all, one of love, the love that the Belgians have for an extraordinary structure symbolising a frame of mind that wittily combines aesthetic daring with technical mastery. The appearance of the Atomium is unusual and unforgettable. It has a rare quality of lifting everyone’s spirits and firing their imagination.”