The Atomium was built in 1958 in Brussels under the Expo 58. At 103 meters high, the Atomium represents an elemental crystal of iron expanded 165 million times, with tubes that connect the 9 parts forming 8 vertices.
The iron beads with about 18 meters in diameter are connected by tubes with stairs in their interior with a length of about 35 meters. The windows installed on the top ball offer visitors a panoramic view of the city. Other spheres have exhibitions on the 1950s. The three spheres, which are accessible only through vertical pipes, are closed to the public for safety reasons.
Initially planned to last only six months by the architect André Waterkeyn, it has survived becoming a must-see tourist spot. Many consider the Atomium a national icon, rivaling the Manneken Pis. It is located next to the Balduíno I Stadium in Heysel Park. Next to them are the congress center and the Mini-Europa Park.
In March 2004, repairs began at the monument, replacing worn-out aluminum sheets with time. To help finance the works, the old aluminum plates were sold to the public as souvenirs. The Atomium was closed to the public until January 2006.
The Atomium was built as the main pavilion and icon of the 1958 World Fair of Brussels. The construction of the Atomium was a technical feat. Of the nine spheres, six are accessible to the public, each with two main floors and a lower floor reserved for service. The central tube contains the fastest elevator of the time (5 m / s), installed by the Belgian branch of the Swiss firm Schlieren (later taken over by Schindler). It allows 22 people to reach the summit in 23 seconds. The escalators installed in the oblique tubes are among the longest in Europe. The biggest is 35 m long.
Three of the four top spheres lack vertical support and therefore are not open to the public for safety reasons, although the sphere at the pinnacle is open to the public. The original design called for no supports; the structure was simply to rest on the spheres. Wind tunnel tests proved that the structure would have toppled in an 80 km / h wind (140 km / h winds have been recorded in Belgium). Support columns were added to achieve sufficient resistance against overturning.
The Atomium, designed to last six months, was not intended to survive the 1958 World’s Fair, but its popularity and success made it a major element of the Brussels landscape. Its destruction was postponed year after year, until the city’s authorities decided to keep it. However, for thirty years, little maintenance work was done.