I wasn't sure what to think when I first saw a picture of the Atomium in a Belgium guidebook, but it turned out to be one of the coolest kitschy tourist attractions I've ever visited.
The Atomium was built for the World's Fair hosted by Brussels in 1958. It's not quite as famous as other monuments like the the Eiffel Tower and Space Needle, built for similar expos, but in some ways it's far more intriguing.
Visits start with an elevator ride to an observation deck. After returning to the ground floor, visitors explore remaining levels of the Atomium by escalator and stairs. The exhibits inside focus on the history of the Atomium and on Belgian design. The exhibits aren't always thrilling, but there is absolutely nothing like spending a couple of hours wandering around inside a giant metal atom.
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Zipping into the Atomium
Made up of 9 giant silver balls, the Atomium was constructed for the 1958 Worlds Fair in the city.
Not too many years ago it was refurbished for the 40th anniversary where the fading structure was polished up and now shines in the Belgian sun (when it comes out).
You can buy a ticket and take a series of escalators up through the balls, as you check out the various displayes and enjoy the views.
Atomium. The geeky name alone makes me smile. I don’t know if the structure even serves a purpose beyond being a proudly-proclaimed tourist attraction and weird icon.
Check out the eccentric, iconic monument because you'll never again encounter another, then walk the gardens and wooded park beyond.
Belgium trip report: http://bit.ly/Oocgt6