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The secret of the Belgian Atomium in Brussels (Heizel)

The secret of the Belgian Atomium in Brussels (Heizel)
Atomium Brussels (c) Pierre Halleuxa

Updated July 5, 2024 by pierre

Things to know before visiting the Brussels Atomium

Many of you would be tempted by the name "Atonium", however, the correct spelling is "The Atomium". This iron giant was built by the architect Andree Waterkeyen at the Belgian Universal Exhibition in 1958. Equipped witha unique and impressive structure, he demonstrates the mastery of the crystal by making it 165 billion times larger than its basic structure.

Did you know that the Atomium was designed to be a temporary building? Today, we know it's here to stay. It is one of the attractions not to be missed. Same if you come to Brussels for a day, the trip is worth it. If you come for a weekend, you will have the opportunity to browse other nearby activities such as mini europe or, the japanese tower. If 600.000 visitors come to admire it each year, the trip is worth the effort.

What is the history of the Atomium? What does the shape of the Atomium with all its balls represent? Can we visit the Atomium? Are there any hotels near the Atomium? … We take you to LAEKEN to answer your questions. Follow the leader!

Want to visit the Atomium? Don't waste a moment, entries are here! 

The Atomium in Brussels (c) Photo Pierre Halleux
The Atomium in Brussels (c) Photo Pierre Halleux

History of the Atomium at the Heizel in Brussels

Its history can be summed up above all in the love Belgians have for a bizarre and unusual building, but which brings together aesthetic audacity and technical mastery. Originally, the Atomium should only be on display for six months. But its success had transformed it into a real tourist attraction symbol of modernity pushing back its destruction from year to year. It was built with a 2 ton steel frame connecting nine aluminum-covered spheres 18 meters in diameter which represent the nine atoms which form the conventional mesh of the cubic structure of iron in its first phase, eight atoms at the ends of a cube and the ninth in the center. The designer was inspired by the image of the developing atom. Six of these spheres are accessible to the public. Each of them consists of two floors. The elevator is in the central tube.

Above all, the Atomium represented the image of an era that wanted to merge the destiny of Humanity with scientific discoveries. Being both a building and a sculpture, the Atomium represents the confidence that man attributes to scientific progress. A rather odd totem in both cubic and spherical shape, the Atomium is more than an object. It is above all a utopia, a place and a space that escapes ordinary classification.

After regaining its original shine and appearance, the Atomium continues its success. Tour guides define it as exceptional, magnificent and striking. The building has become a must when visiting Brussels. From its height of 102 meters, the Atomium offers a breathtaking panorama bidder a 360° view of the 19 municipalities of Brussels.

Archiv der Evangelischen Kirche im Rheinland from Düsseldorf/ Boppard, Deutschland - Ev. Pavilion at the EXPO in Brüssel
(c) Archiv der Evangelischen Kirche im Rheinland from Düsseldorf/ Boppard, Deutschland – Ev. Pavilion at the EXPO in Brüssel. Brussels Atomium – Heizel – Wikipedia

F.A.Q.

Every year thousands of tourists come to the foot of the Atomium. If this is also your intention, you will probably ask yourself the questions below:

Why are there 9 balls at the Atomium? Why this weird shape?

In the 50s, the whole world was certain that science would change our lives and solve many problems. During the Universal Exhibition of 1958, it was therefore necessary to work on this idea and show how science was going to progress… This new structure was in tune with the times… Because it fused iron with the atom: giving rise to the Atomium. Civilizations were still shocked by 1945 and the atomic bombs dropped on Japan. Its aim was therefore to reassure on the peaceful uses of the atom.

Atomium – therefore goes hand in hand with “Atom”. Not so small when you know that it is 102 meters high and each of the spheres is 18 meters in diameter. However, the atomium does not represent an iron atom… because of the 26 electrons surrounding it… it would have required 82 balls instead of 9!

Attention, iron is not the only atom to have this crystalline structure. If you said the structure is that of sodium or potassium that would also be correct.

What's in the balls of the Atomium?

There are 6 balls accessible to the public.

  • The lower sphere is reserved for permanent exhibitions devoted to the 1950s as well as to Expo '58 and the construction of the Atomium same;
  • the 2nd sphere welcomes temporary exhibitions ;
  • the 3rd and the central sphere have a versatile vocation. They allow the organization various events, films, concerts, parties or conferences ;
  • the upper sphere, in addition to the panorama, houses a restaurant ;
  • the 6th sphere is the sphere of children, intended for the organization urban education workshops, allowing children from six to twelve years old to spend the night there.

There are also concerts and events take a look at the list of events here

 

Where is the Atomium and how to get there?

Pl. de l'Atomium 1, 1020 Brussels?

Here's where to book your ticket to the Atomium

 

  • Access in car is very easy. The Atomium does not have its own private car park but the parking possibilities on the Heizel are immense. However, do not leave any object apparently in your car and please lock your vehicle properly. Attention, since 2018,  Brussels-Capital has become an LEZ zone (low emissions). If your vehicle is old, you may need to park in the transit car parks at the entrances to Brussels.
  • En Villa, a Villo station awaits you there (station 281])
  • En Metro, from the center and for example De Brouckère station (near the Bourse and the Grand Place), you just have to take line 1, direction and then change at Beekkant to take line 6 direction Roi Baudouin. The Heyzel stop is the domain stop.

What is the weight of the structure of the Atomium?

Given the imposing structure, many visitors wonder how much the giant Steel Atom weighs. Its 9 iron atoms measure 102 meters in height and its weight approaches the 2400 tons.

Can we visit the inside of the steel giant?

Obviously! You can visit the Atomium. Often visitors compare the interior of the Atomium to a ship straight out of Star Wars. Worthy of an intergalactic ship or a submarine, the interior of the Atomium is rather surrealist. The interior is actually composed of huge volumes in stainless steel and metal frames. To get around, take mechanical escalators.

Access timetable and entrance ticket price to the Brussels Atomium

You can enter the balls from 10:00 a.m. to 18:00 p.m. Outside these hours, access is only possible for a private event or for the restaurant.

Atomium ticket reduction with the Combo Atomium+Mini-Europe

If you are going to Mini-Europe with the kids. Be sure to grab a combo ticket. Indeed, combined Atomium + Mini-Europe tickets are on sale at the Atomium and Mini-Europe ticket offices.

In 2022, the combo prices with mini-europe are as follows:

  • Senior [≥65]: €27,70
  • Adult [18-64]: €29,40
  • Adolescent [13-17]: €22,80
  • Kids [>115cm-12]: €18,70
    Student fee [with card]: €22,80

For this price you can visit the Atomium, the permanent exhibition there as well as the temporary exhibition and the panorama.
At 150m, you can also visit the Design Museum Brussels as well as the permanent exhibition [The plastic design collection] and the temporary exhibitions. You will also have access to the entire visit of Mini Europe.

 

Atomium reduction on the online entry ticket

Entrance ticket prices are not given… Here is how to benefit from a discount:

  1.  BRUSSELS CARD: On presentation of the map which allows you to discover Brussels (attractions, shops, restaurants, bars and clubs).
  2. Gezinsbond : if you are a member, benefit from 15% on the prices indicated Members can benefit from a reduction of 15% on the prices published (only Atomium tickets [not combined tickets]) Attention, the nillet must be purchased online on the Gezinsbond website
  3. THE LEAGUE OF FAMILIES : if you are a member, benefit from -2€ on the prices displayed. Excluding combo, on presentation of the card.
  4. Combo TRAINWORLD, if you have visited one, show your ticket when purchasing your ticket, to receive a discount (Group rate)
  5. Combo BUS HOP ON HOP OFF. If you took this tour by bus with City Sightseeing Brussels / Open-Tours, benefit from a discount.
  6. Combo PLANETARIUM: same, show your planetarium ticket to receive a 2€ discount

 

6. Can we eat in the Atomium? Yes! Discover the Atomium restaurant

If you are looking for a unusual restaurant in Brussels you found it. The upper sphere on level 8 welcomes you to its panoramic restaurant. More than 100 meters above the ground, you can eat in the highest sphere. Come and live an unusual and extraordinary experience. On the menu, Belgian specialties and dishes revisited by the chef who will send you to the moon.

Restaurant hours:

  • Bar : Monday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 17 p.m.
  • Breakfast : Monday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
  • Lunch : Monday to Sunday from 12 a.m. to 15 p.m.
  • Dinner : Monday to Sunday from 19 p.m. to 21 p.m. – Attention reservation essential via www.atomiumrestaurant.be

 

7. How to rent the Atomium for a professional event?

For your events, you can also rent some of the 18m diameter stainless steel balls. Benefit from the most beautiful panorama over the city of Brussels combined with contemporary lighting. In short, all thought out by a designer (Ingo Maurer). The spaces are convertible and will make it possible to
Meeting, conference, seminar, customer meeting, product launch, scientific and professional event. Everything will be part of this party room for your cocktails and galas.

Different rental formulas are possible. (200 people / 120 people / 80 people)

More info on the Atomium

 

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