the 'Eiffel Tower' of Brussels!
Paris has the Eiffel Tower. London has Big Ben. And Brussels has the Atomium, a structural remnant from the 1958 world fair held here.
What is the Atomium?
Resembling something between a spaceship, a spider and a gargantuan jack (remember when girls used to play 'jacks' in school?), the structure is a symbol of the atom concept, representing an iron crystal, magnified 165 billion times. It is comprised of nine large spheres joined by connecting steel and aluminum tubes, and reaches a height of 102 metres.
What is there to do at The Atomium?
The structure is more than just a sight to behold. You can actually go in it, taking escalators and elevators up to some of the spheres to view exhibits, visit the snack bar or restaurant, and even view the special 'Kids Sphere' where school groups can make spend-the-night-trips.
My son and I visited the structure and liken it to going inside some kind of gigantic science exhibit. Upon entrance, a medium-sized elevator zips you up to the top sphere in 22 seconds, giving you a panoramic view of the area. Since the Atomium is located on the northwest outskirts of Brussels, the view is somewhat nondescript. If you know Brussels, you'll recognize a landmark or two. But it's nothing like the Eiffel Tower which offers breathtaking views of Paris.
If you are claustrophic or if height-conscious, you might want to sit this one out. The experience involves steep escalator rides through long narrow tubes. Both my son and I felt a bit insecure once we were three-fourths of the way up the escalator. (I actually thought about sitting on the escalator step rather than standing.)
Five spheres are open to visitors. From ground-floor escalator you can access:
1. The base sphere, the "Henri Storck sphere" featuring a permanent exhibition dedicated to the fifties.
2. The sphere named after the Belgian artist Marcel Broodthaers featuring temporary exhibitions.
3. The central sphere, the "Waterkeyn sphere" which includes a bar where you can purchase a snack.
4. The upper sphere, accessible only by elevator, is home to the restaurant and panorama.
5. The kids sphere. While you can't visit this sphere, you can view it from behind windows. This sphere is especially for school groups who can actually spend the night in it.
Click here to learn more about the Brussels Grand Place Guide.
B-1020 Brussel (Laken)
Tel. +32 (0)2/475.47.75
Fax +32 (0)2/475.47.79
E-mail: [email protected]
By car or bus:
1. Take Brussels ring road
2. Take exit 8 at "Wemmel"
3. Follow the "Atomium" arrows
Eeuwfeestlaan / Boulevard de Centenaire or Atomium square
B-1020 Brussels (Laken-Laeken)
1. Start at Brussels Central Station
2. Take metro line 1A "Roi Baudouin"
3. Exit at station "Heysel"
Open daily from 10:00 AM till 6:00 PM (ticket desk closes at 5:30 PM). Note: On weekends and holidays, there can be a 30-40 minute wait for the elevator.
Free for: children six and under; bus drivers, the disabled. Children 6-11: 2€ Adults: 9€ Teachers with teacher card: 7€ Children 12-18 (with student card: 6€ Seniors (65+): 6€
Groups (20+ persons)
Children six and under, bus drivers, the disabled: free Children 6-11: 2€ Adults: 7€ Teachers with teacher card:5€ Children 12-18 (with student card: 4€ Seniors (65+): 4€
At The Atomium, you can take a guided tour or a self-guided one.
For self-guided tours, audio guides are available for 2€ at the ticket desk in the following languages: English, French, Dutch, German, Spanish and Russian.
Group tours can be booked for a minimum of one person to 25. Reservations must be made at least three weeks in advance by e-mail or post specifying:
1. Name, address and phone number
2. Date and time of the visit
3. The language for the guide’s comments (Dutch, English, French, German, Italian or Spanish)
4. The number and age of the participants (adults, senior citizens, children under/over 12)
To book a tour contact: E-mail address: [email protected]
Note: Because the upper sphere is the only one accessible by elevator, it is the only one with easy access for people with reduced mobility and the only sphere open to those in wheelchairs.
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