Atomium

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The Atomium is situated on the northern outskirts of Brussels at the Heysel plateau which it dominates. It symbolizes a crystallized molecule of iron by the scale of its atoms, magnified 150 thousand million times.

The construction was designed by the engineer André Waterkeyn for the International Exhibition of Brussels held in 1958. The project was made in 1955 and the works started in March 1956. It was not intended to survive the Exhibition. However, its popularity made it not only to survive but it also became one of the major landmarks of the city.

The construction was made of steel clad with aluminium. It comprises of nine large spheres (representing atoms) joined by tubes (representing the binding forces between the atoms) and arranged in the configuration of a central cubic system. The diameter of each sphere is 18 metres and they were fitted out by the architects André and Jean Polak. The distance between the spheres, measured on the sides of the cube, is nearly 30 metres. The diameter of the tubes is 2,98 metres and the diagonal tubes has 3,3 metres in diameter. They are 22,98 metres long. The height of the structure is 102 metres and it stands on three enormous bipods. These bipods support the tree lower spheres of the Atomium, as well as allowed the installation of the stairs.

There are the escalators installed inside the tubes (one of the longest in Europe), as well as the elevator. It takes just 23 seconds to get to the top sphere. Its capacity is 22 people. The floor in the sphere is 240 square metres wide and the heigh between floors is approximately 4,5 metres (there are two floors in each sphere).

There is a restaurant in the top sphere with the capacity 140 persons. The viewpoint below can contain 250 persons at once.

In March 2004 renovation started. It included replacing faded aluminium sheets on the balls with stainless steel. The pieces of the old aluminium were sold as souvenirs to help to finance the renovation. The Atomium was reopened on 18th February 2006.

There are different exhibitions taking place in the Atomium. It is opened daily, from 10 am to 6 pm.
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