Atomium, Brussels

 

Built for the 1958 Brussels World Fair (Expo ’58), this 103-metre high structure represents a molecule of iron, magnified 165 billion times.
Nine 18-metre diameter steel spheres are linked by tubes which enclose escalators up to 35 metres long. Windows in the top sphere offer a panoramic view of Brussels. Some spheres house 1950s exhibitions. Initially planned for a life span of only six months, architect André Waterkeyn's design has lived on to become a popular tourist attraction and a Belgian landmark. It sits beside the King Baudouin Stadium in Heysel Park. 
From March 2004 the structure underwent considerable renovation, including updating of the exhibition areas, a new restaurant and a Kids Sphere Hotel, with suspended plastic sphere beds to accommodate visiting school children. The dull aluminium sheets on the spheres were replaced by bright stainless steel and to help with funding, the old aluminium was sold to the public as souvenirs. Closed from October 2004, the complex reopened on 18 February 2006.
 

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