Brussels most famous and iconic landmark can be found in the northernmost part of the city. Just south of the border with Flanders, you will find the Atomium. This construction represents a giant iron atom enlarged by a factor of 165 billion, and it was constructed for the 1958 Brussels World Fair as a monument embracing the scientific progress of the atomic age. It has since become a celebrated part of Belgium’s cultural identity commemorated in every conceivable way possible - from t-shirts and mini statues in souvenir shops to stamps at the post office.
This proud monument was the architectural feat of its time when it was built in 1958, and it is hard to believe this monument was initially scheduled for destruction six months after the fair. Today, the Atomium is one of Brussels biggest tourist attractions, where the different spheres offer a variety of activities from a museum detailing the construction of the building itself to temporary art exhibitions and a restaurant in the top sphere offering panoramic views of the city. If you want, you can even rent one of the spheres for your own event!
The area surrounding the Atomium has a lot to offer too. If the weather is sunny, why not explore the Park of Laeken just next to the Atomium. This huge park is part of King Leopold's legacy to create a public park for the people of Brussels - and of course also to show off his impressive residencies at the centre of the park. You can spend hours here exploring different parts of the park's history explained on signs found by the walkways as you venture around. Make sure to check out the Stuyvenberg Castle and the Palace of Laeken in the park. However, you will have to settle with pictures from the outside as they still function as residencies for the members of the royal family.
Just around the corner, you have Mini Europe – a park that exhibits miniature replicas of Europe’s most famous cities and its monuments. Here you can admire mini-monuments such as the leaning tower of Pisa, Big Ben and the Eiffel Tower. Plan your day accordingly because a tour will easily take two hours.
Also within walking distance is the Brussels Planetarium. It offers an educational tour that will teach you everything about our solar system, including impressive films in its dome, which uses a state of the art projection system to provide a spectacular immersive experience. And if you still have some spare time, you can always watch a new release in Belgium’s biggest cinema complex – Kinepolis Brussels.
Although the Atomium might seem a bit away of the more fun central neighbourhoods of the capital of Europe, Brussels most iconic landmark and its surrounding area are definitely worth a visit!
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