Bizarre modern construction filled with symbolism and built for the 1958 Brussels' World Fair. The Atomium is an iron molecule magnified 165.000.000.000 times (9 balls). The steel inner construction is plated with aluminium (according to Chretien Comhair this is to be replaced by Nickelsteel during the renovation of 2004-2005). The balls have about 18 m diametre. They are connected by long cylinders that have a diameter of 3 m. These cylinders are used to get from one ball to the next. They contain moving staircases. The entire construction is about 100 m high.
The Atomium is Brussels' answer to the Paris Eifel Tower (the Eifel Tower was also built for a world fair). All belgian souvenir shops have the scaled models of this building for sale.
The monument was designed in 1955 by André Waterkeyn, director at the company Fabrimetal. It was conceived to be kept standing for only 6 months but it is still here today. At the beginning of the 21th century, a complete renovation was urgently needed. The re-opning is foreseen for 14 Feb 2006. After the death of Waterkeyn in 2005, the decision was taken to name the top ball after him.
The upper ball contains a panoramic restaurant with a splendid view over Brussels.