Thursday, February 01, 2007


On February 18, the Atomium celebrated its first anniversary after the renovation. If Paris has it's Eiffel tower, Brussels has it's Atomium. I wanted to see its new outfit and went there yesterday. Of course there were a lot of people !

It is also a left over from a world's fair. It was built for the 1958 Brussels World's Fair (Expo '58) and is 103-meters (335-foot) tall and represents a unit cell of an iron crystal (body-centred cubic), magnified 165 billion times, with vertical body diagonal, and tubes along the 12 edges of the cube and from all 8 vertices to the centre.

In the top central ball is a restaurant, which has a beautiful view all over Brussels. Another ball is used for art expositions and one is reserved for children where they can stay on school trips. It is very nicely decorated and for them of course it's a big adventure to stay in a ball where everything is round, the walls included. It is very nicely decorated and the dormitory features are suspended plastic sphere beds ! But you can also walk in other tubes, go to other balls, and overlook Brussels from every side.

Until 2004 nothing had been done to entertain the Atomium since his opening in 1958 and slowly decayed. The elevetor which took you to the top in just a few seconds couldn't be used anymore and also the tubes became dangerous to walk in. The city had not enough money to spend for a renovation.

Finally it was decided to sell it to private companies, before it was completely ruined. Beginning March 2004, the much-needed renovation work started.
The faded aluminium sheets on the balls were replaced by stainless steel. To help pay for renovations, the old aluminium had been sold to the public as souvenirs. A triangular piece about 2 m long sold for €1,000.

The re-openening was finally on 18th February 2006 in the presence of government members and the crown prince Philippe.
The Atomium in his new dress it is very beautiful and also very special. When it is dark, it is lighted and sparkles during the night.

A lot of tourists are coming to visit the new Atomium. It is located in a huge park which belonged to the former King Leopold who offered it for the world's fair. The royal castle is therefore very close and can easily be seen from the Atomium.

The new Atomium when we arrived. It was a pitty that the weather was so grey.

When you are under the Atomium and you look up you have this amazing view

The works are not yet finished outside and we had to make a big way around the Atomium to get to the entry.

From far we already saw a long queue of visitors.

I didn't ask if it is still allowed to go up outside. In the past you could.

First thing we saw inside was this very special staircase with red iron steps. But fortunately there also was an escalator !

We didn't take the elevator because the waiting time was approx 1 h to get in and we already had queued up for half an hour to get our tickets ! Therefore we decided not to go to the top ball and do it another time, anyway the view wasn't great in this grey weather.

The ceiling of the first ball at the entrance

Old cars from 1958 were exposed

and here we were, just in the first ball

The elevator took us to the second ball. In total there are four balls you can visit.

The second ball showed photos of the mondial fair 1958, here with Elizabeth Taylor

Gina Lollobridgida with our former King Baudouin, who died in 1991 and was succeeded by his brother Albert II, our actual King.

He and his wife Paola (from Italian origin) live in this modest Palace called "Chateau du Belvedere" it's located close to the Atomium. It is not the official Palace. He just didn't want to move when his brother died.

A picture of the Russian booth in 1958

and iron steps again to go down again, but this tube was closed.

We took the second elevator and arrived

There was an exposition of Barbie dolls in 1958-60 clothes. We both thought that a lot of things are in fashion again.
the ceiling here looked beautiful and a little surrealistic.
Again the steps which lead through the tubes into another ball.

To show you the size of one tube I took a picture of my friend who talks with one of the responsible employees.

In this ball the school children could stay.As you can see, the small balls are a bed for two children.It looked very adventurous and cozy !

I would have loved to spend a night there too !

and finally I also could take a picture from the view out of the window. Of course you can see much more far when you are in the last ball where you have the restaurant and a panorama.

Just in front of the Atomium are the big Exposition buildings and a leisure park with restaurants, cinema, swimming pool etc. This will be for the next time.


MaR said...

It seems you had a ball!! :)
I would love to spend the night in a ball too, your pics are great and this is a wonderful review of this place!

Anonymous said...

Wow! thanks for the excellent tour! I feel like I've been there now too! Very interesting building - and exhibitions as it looks like!!!

I understand why all those lines, it's really like when visiting The Eiffel.

It must be a blast for kids, it's like visiting a spaceship :-)

OldLady Of The Hills said...

What an amaqzing place...though it has a rather 'cold' feel to it...It is hard to comprehend the size of these Balls and Halls...Amazing Gattina...!

GMG said...

WOW. It looks much better than the last time I was there...

Anonymous said...

NEATO! I have added the Atomium to the list of things I must go and see! I'd like to spend the night in one of those orbs, too! :-) Looks like a fun trip. Where to next???

RennyBA said...

What a lovely tour - thanks for taking us with it was a very educating read!
You know I sometimes go to Brussels and I can hardly wait for the next time.

TorAa said...

Very interesting and a wonderful guided tour. Have been to Bruxelles quite a few times, but never to this famous landmark.
I'll be there next time.

Thanks for the guidance


sonia a. mascaro said...

Wow! Thanks Ingrid, for this fantastic tour! I just feel like I've been there! Great thread of pictures! You did a good job!

Have a good weekend!

GMG said...

Hi Gattina,

Thanks for your comment on Blogtrotter.
I was looking at your post on Brussels and found some gorgeous photos there. Astoundingly, I've been in Brussels seventy two (72) times, but was never able to catch such beautiful photos, so my posts on the city don’t pay it the deserved justice. It's true that most visits were due for attending meetings, but anyhow...
After December 2002, when I became more sedentary, my first chance to go abroad as a tourist was in January 2003, and the destination was Brussels. I profited the opportunity, but my friends told me: «you must be sick; going back to Brussels once again...». Amazingly (or not), I found it much more interesting! All depends on the eyes you're using to see it...
All the best

stadtgarten said...

Thanks a lot for sharing your fotos. I have been to the Atomium a long time ago, when I was sixteen, during a youth camp near Brussels.
Unfortunately I haven't been back to Brussels since that time, although we are passing this town every time we are going to the dutch coast.
But every time on the "Brusselse ring" I try to get a glimpse of the Atomium.
Kind regards from Germany,

Robin said...

What a fun place. I don't think my husband made it there when he was in Belgium, but perhaps that was before it reopened. I'll have to add that to my "someday" list!

Robin from Israel

Helen said...

Wow, it seems like you had a good time! I'd love to go to Brussels one day...

TopChamp said...

weird - pretty cool too...

sonia a. mascaro said...

Hi Gattina, how are you? I see you switch your layout. It's beautiful!
Have a nice Sunday!

Naturegirl said...

Gattina: I was there visiting this
awesome shiny structure! Because we were with a tour bus..did NOT have time to see interior..thank you for calling me to this post!

Anonymous said...

this blogs ok

Bill said...

Hi Gattina, From the outside the Atomium still looks the same, maybe a bit shinier, someone must have polished it. We did actually go in, but not to eat. I remember it had a huge car-park with hardly any cars there only some gypsy caravans.

It really is a great structure. We had the world Expo here in 1988 and they built a tower called the sky needle. After the Expo, a hairdresser bought it and it is now standing at his head office.

Karen Funk Blocher said...

Oh, what a wondrous place the Atomium is inside! Thanks for telling about it and all the great pictures!


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I love writing, traveling and photography. . I am German, married to an Italian and we live in Waterloo (15 km from Brussels) / Belgium since many years. Waterloo is a famous place to many tourists, because Napoleon lost his battle here against Wellington and other European countries.


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