What is Atomium?

When we think about atoms, we probably think about something that is infinitesimally small and forms the building blocks of… well, nearly everything. The Atomium – which has the idea of an atom at its core – however, is an iconic landmark and an international place of tourism in Brussels, Belgium.

Originally constructed in 1958 for the first post-war (World War II) universal world exhibition (EXPO 58), it was envisioned as a building that represented the faith humanity has in the power of science. Considering everything that transpired during World War II, Atomium specifically symbolised our trust in nuclear power. The makers wanted to emphasise that there is hope for nuclear power and that it can be put to good uses as well.

What does it represent?

The Atomium was designed by Belgian engineer Andre Waterkeyn and the insides of the spheres that you see in the building were designed by architects Andre and Jean Polak. The Atomium stands 102m tall with each of the nine spheres having a diameter of 18m. You’ll notice that the spheres are connected by tubes in a particular way. Apart from facilitating movement from one sphere to another through stairs, escalators and elevators, the tubes, obviously, serve a design purpose as well.

The Atomium as a whole forms the shape of a unit cell of an iron (ferrite) crystal. To reach the dimensions that we have mentioned, the structure has been magnified 165 billion times that of an original iron crystal!

What does it offer now?

Apart from being a tourist landmark, the Atomium now functions as a museum. While there is a permanent exhibition about the history of the building in one of the spheres, the rest of the spheres cater to temporary exhibitions on various themes. The sphere at the top not only has a restaurant, but also offers stunning panoramic views of the entire city of Brussels.

But wait, is there a Smurf?

In case you know yours Smurfs right, you would remember that they made their first appearance in 1958. That’s right! The Atomium and the Smurf’s share their birth year. In order to celebrate the 60th birthdays of these two Belgian icons, it was decided to bring them together. What better way than having a Smurf prominently in one of the spheres. Oh, and they also added a blue hue to the entire building for good measure.


Picture Credit : Google