Finally I reached the Atomium. The walk from the station to the larger than life atom was treacherous. It was still completely iced over and quite slick. Part way through I asked someone to take my photo. Jay and his Mom were visiting from the Philippines. They tried to take several photos of me but the settings on my camera kept darkening my face. They took one on their camera and we exchanged email addresses. Hopefully they will send it.
The Atomium was originally built for the 1958 World Fair and was intended as a temporary structure, however its popularity and success made it a key landmark and it was never torn down. A few statistics about the structure:
surface of the spheres: 1082 square meters / 240 square meters
diameter of the spheres: 18m
diameter of the base pavilion: 26m
diameter of the tubes: 3m 30
length of the cube edge tubes: 29m
length of the diagonal tubes: 26m
constructed in 1958
renovated in 2003 / 2006
mass: 2,400 tons (1958)
2,500 tons (2006)
To ascend the structure one can take an elevator directly to the center sphere. This elevator travels at a speed of 5m/s, which made it the world's fastest when it was built in 1958.
To ascend and descend through the side spheres, one utllizes
3 escalators and 80 steps to go up
1 escalator and 167 steps to go down
Each sphere of the Atomium serves a different purpose. The middle sphere allows for panoramic views and also houses a very expensive restaurant. Needless to say, I only saw the views and did not sample the food of the restaurant. It was a beautiful morning. As I looked out, the sky was clear and I could see quite a distance, yet there was a low hanging fog that made the city in the distance look hazy. It was also possible to see other spheres from the windows of the panorama.
The other spheres contained exhibits including one on plastic and 55 years of the Atomium history. Plus some spheres contained viewing platforms as well.
The other method of transversing the Atomium was via stairs. I noticed the railings echoed the design of the Atomium with tubes and spheres.