Visit the Brussels Atomium, the city's landmark

Brussels, a cosmopolitan city par excellence, has no shortage of attractions. There are many places of interest, and the city is an emblematic European tourist destination. But one of them stands out as a true symbol of the country: the Atomium is an emblematic monument of Brussels. Every year, thousands of visitors flock here, inspired by the futuristic architecture of the site, to admire this giant in the heart of the city. High on the list of places to visit, its nine spheres linked by steel tubes represent the molecular structure of a steel crystal and offer a breathtaking panoramic view of Brussels. Science, technology, innovation, history - it's also a cultural centre with a special focus on Belgium and the digital arts. Thanks to its unique structure, it is a resolutely futuristic landmark that has been blending into the Brussels landscape for decades. Come and visit!

© Adriana Cevdari / Shutterstock

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An emblematic symbol of Brussels and Belgium in general, theAtomium was built for the 1958 Universal Exhibition. Designed by engineer André Waterkeyn and built by architects André and Jean Polak, it has become, like the Manneken-Pis, the Grand-Place and the Mont des Arts, one of the most visited landmarks in the flat country. Measuring 102 metres high and weighing almost 2,500 tonnes, it is made up of a steel frame and three bipod pillars supporting its nine spheres. These nine balls are linked together by 20 tubes containing lifts and staircases that allow visitors to travel between the different parts of the Atomium.

The Brussels Atom, the city's symbol. Belgium.

- © Maykova Galina / Shutterstock

Each sphere represents a steel molecule, the whole imposing itself as the molecular structure of a steel crystal 165 billion times enlarged. It embodies the boldness of an area driven by man's scientific discoveries. Built to be the main attraction of the 1958 Universal Exhibition, its life expectancy was not expected to exceed 6 months. However, faced with the fervour of the people of Brussels, the demolition of this architectural feat was postponed for a year, before finally being abandoned altogether.

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Since its opening, the Atomium has become one of the most visited sites in Brussels and one of the city's best-known symbols. Visitors can discover the history of the Atomium and the 1958 Universal Exhibition, as well as exhibitions on science, technology and innovation. It is also a symbol of Belgium as a leader in technology and science. The country has been at the forefront of many scientific and technical advances over the years, and this majestic monument reflects the cutting-edge technologies and scientific advances developed by Belgium.

Atomium, Brussels, Belgium.

- © Adriana Cevdari / Shutterstock

Renovated on numerous occasions, its extremely high annual cost tears at the heart of popular opinion. Investing money in a building that wasn't meant to last - a bygone age for some, essential for others - nevertheless raises the question of its conservation on a regular basis since its inauguration. Yet no one really wants to see it demolished, because it is so much a part of Brussels. One alternative was to repair only the exterior and abandon all use of the building. But a complete overhaul of the building was voted through! Since the 1950s, the work had been tarnished by time, and the interior elements were more than a little faded. Total renovation of the exterior and interior took over 5 years. Today, the Atomium weighs 100 tonnes more than when it was built. In fact, the metal plates that covered its balls were replaced by stainless steel plates, which are much heavier, but also more resistant!

This building, with its unique silhouette, has continued to reinvent itself over the years. Today, it hosts exhibitions and welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors. The spheres also house meeting and conference rooms, making it a popular venue for business events and meetings. As a venue for events and gatherings, it is not uncommon to see concerts and other celebrations.

You start your visit with the main lift, which takes you in around twenty seconds to a height of over 100 metres, in the highest sphere of the Atomium. This is the fastest lift in Europe. From here, take in the breathtaking panorama of Brussels! Next, find your way through the exhibitions set up in the various spheres. Each year, temporary exhibitions take place in the different spheres of the Atomium, inviting visitors to discover different worlds, all with a connection to Belgium. There are exhibitions of Magritte, the Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel and Sabena (the Belgian airline). You will no doubt be struck by the futuristic atmosphere that reigns in this surprising building. With its lifts, staircases and spherical rooms, it's an ideal place to discover that will appeal to young and old alike.

Practical information

📍 Address: Place de l'Atomium 1 1020 Brussels

⏰ Times: Open every day, Monday to Sunday inclusive from 10am to 6pm (last ticket sale at 5.30pm)

👛 Fees: Adults: €16

Senior : (+65 years old): €14

Children: €8.50

Students: free

Buy your ticket online here

🚌 Getting there: the Atomium is a little out of the way from the centre, but Brussels has excellent public transport links. From the city centre, allow around 15 minutes by metro on lines 1 and 6

by Faustine PEREZ
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