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  FLAG OF BELGIUM    
 
 
  BELGIUM  
  TOURIST ATTRACTIONS IN BRUSSELS, BELGIUM: ATOMIUM:

THE ATOMIUM, BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
© www.atomium.be - SABAM 2010
 

Atomium square
1020 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: 02 475 47 75
Last updated on: January 3, 2011
Please update us!

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The Atomium is a monument in Brussels, originally built for Expo '58, the 1958 Brussels World's Fair. Designed by André Waterkeyn, it stands 102-metres (335 ft) tall. It has nine steel spheres connected so that the whole forms the shape of a unit cell of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times.

Tubes connect the spheres along the 12 edges of the cube and all eight vertices to the centre. They enclose escalators connecting the spheres containing exhibit halls and other public spaces. The top sphere provides a panoramic view of Brussels. Each sphere is 18 metres in diameter. Three spheres are currently (2008) closed to visitors, others can be reached easily by escalators. The vertical vertex contains a lift which was very fast and advanced at the time of building (the speed is 5 m/s).

History:

One of the original ideas for Expo '58 was to build an upside-down version of the Eiffel tower; however, Waterkeyn felt that an atomic structure would be more symbolic of the era.  The monument was originally planned to stand there for six months. However, it became a symbol not only of the World's Fair, but of modern architecture and the city of Brussels and of Belgium. It received monument status and stayed on the former exhibition grounds same for over 50 years. It is now one of the Brussels main attractions.

Renovation:

Renovation on the Atomium began in March 2004; it was closed to the public in October, and remained closed until 18 February 2006. The renovations included replacing the faded aluminium sheets on the spheres with stainless steel. To help pay for renovations, the old aluminium was sold to the public as souvenirs. A triangular piece about 2 m long sold for €1,000

The renovation includes revamped exhibition spaces, a restaurant, and a dormitory for visiting schoolchildren called "Kids Sphere Hotel" which features suspended plastic sphere towers. A €2 commemorative coin depicting the sculpture was issued in March 2006 to celebrate the renovation.

Post renovation:

The Atomium is one of the most visited attractions in Brussels today. In 2008, the Atomium celebrated its 50th anniversary, with activities planned all year, including free admission for those turning 50 between April and October.

Location:

The Atomium is located at 50°53′41″N 4°20′28″E / 50.89472°N 4.34111°E / 50.89472; 4.34111Coordinates: 50°53′41″N 4°20′28″E / 50.89472°N 4.34111°E / 50.89472; 4.34111, beside the King Baudouin Stadium in Heysel Park. Just next to it lies the Mini-Europe park and the Heysel/Heizel metro station.

Safety features:

Three of the four uppermost spheres lack vertical support and hence are not open to the public for safety reasons, although the sphere at the pinnacle is open to the public. The original design called for no supports; the structure was simply to rest on the spheres. Wind tunnel tests proved that the structure would have toppled in an 80 km/h wind (140 km/h winds have been recorded in Belgium). Support columns were added to achieve enough resistance against overturning.

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Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Atomium_20-08-07.jpg . Though this image is subject to copyright, its use is covered by the U.S. fair use laws because the image is used as the primary means of visual identification of the article topic.

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