FolkestoneJack's Tracks

The irresistible lure of the atomium

Posted in Belgium, Brussels by folkestonejack on November 26, 2011

The atomium has fascinated me ever since I saw some pictures of it as a child, so first thing this morning we took the metro out to Heysel to get a better look. It must all have seemed incredibly futuristic when it was built as the centrepiece of Expo 58 and it is remarkable that it retains that wow factor to this day. It manages to be even more impressive as you draw closer and begin to appreciate the scale of the structure from underneath.

I was among a small group of early arrivals who took the lift up to the panoramic pod for a view out over the exhibition grounds and nearby stadium, which keeps you entertained for five minutes before you head back down to visit the remaining pods. In all honesty the remaining displays in the atomium are not terribly impressive – a rather lacklustre display about Expo 58 and a very dull temporary exhibition about immigration.

Maybe it is always going to be impossible to live up to that exterior view, but it rather feels like they are not even trying. Don’t get me wrong – it was still fascinating to explore the interior using a combination of stairs, escalators and lifts (which have a glass roof that allows you to see all the way up to the top) but I just wish that it left you a little more inspired.

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