By some random fluke, once upon a time, I somehow managed to attain an A grade at Chemistry A-level so you would think that this would have left me at least partially interested in the structure of a molecule wouldn’t you? As it turns out, I’m not. Not one atomic bit.
Landmarks, monuments and interesting structures though, do grab my attention and after a morning spent exploring Brussels’ bustling markets, it was this curiosity that led me to the Northern part of the city to a giant molecular structure, which is easily the most eccentric city monument I have ever seen.
I’ll admit to feeling a pang of sadness that Pumpkin wasn’t there to see it with me. As a lovable but highly geeky science boff, he’d have loved to have seen this again for the first time since his childhood, having undergone major renovation works approximately 10 years ago.
First built in the 1950s as part of the World Fair programme, this comprises nine enormous reflective spheres all connected by a series of staircases and escalators, its name a melange of the ‘atom’ and ‘aluminium’ from which it is derived.We arrived at around 3.30pm, which as it turned out couldn’t have been any more of a lucky coincidence as it meant that we reached the viewing deck at the top of the highest sphere just in time for dusk.
The interiors of the spheres are high and spacious, serving as a gallery and exhibition space to give you an insight into the history of it but it is the viewing platform for which the queues amass. Expect to wait in the region of 45 minutes – 1 hour to take the lift up to this.
Aesthetically, some of the escalators are simple, silver minimalist. Others are colourful, electric and illuminating with jolts of light flashing either side of you on one particular descent. It felt rather like a cross between pummeling slowly into a nightclub and being on the set of a sci-fi film.
If you are wondering whether or not to invest time and money into seeing the interior, do it! We would have been so regretful to have missed it, as it reveals a fascinating story of architecture, innovation and history. It was also rather magical to enter in daylight and leave in the dark, offering a glimpse into the twinkling globes at night, radiant like Christmas baubles suspended from the skies.
After a jampacked but fun-filled weekend, this was our final stop before rushing back to the Park Inn Hotel to grab our bags and commence our journey back to London. Armed with a ball-point pen and notepad and inspired from the quirky architecture we had just witnessed, it was on that very journey where I started penning my Brussels adventures.
- Adult tickets are priced at 11 Euros for one adult ticket for entry to the Atomium (at time of publication of this post.)
- There are cafe and restaurant facilities or you can treat yourself to a lavish dining experience at the panoramic restaurant with views across the city.
- A gift and chocolate shop are available on site and judging from what I could see, this was a Godsend for many parents, whose little ones were bereft in the long queues.
- Last admission is at 5.30pm.