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The Mighty Atom

I first saw a picture of this when I was very little. In modern parlance, it blew me away. But after hearing not another peep about it for years afterwards – and failing to remember what it was called, never mind where it was located – I started to believe it had come from a work of fiction, or even that I’d imagined the entire thing.

And now I’ve been there! (And have the keyring to prove it.)

According to the (actually very well done and interesting) exhibition inside the spheres, the Atomium was meant to be demolished after the 1958 World’s Fair, then won a reprieve, then was basically allowed to fall into rack and ruin for the next 40-odd years.

You wonder why they didn’t maintain it, after deciding to keep it. Whatever, it must have been a right old eyesore on the Brussels skyline. Which might explain why it passed under my radar for so long – maybe no one bothered taking photos after the early ones that so fascinated me in a 1970’s kiddie encyclopaedia.

Now renovated for the 21st century, Europe’s most bizarre building is back to its shiny former glory – and better still, is at last clad in iron (a crystal of which it represents) rather than aluminium as it was in the 1950s.Ì

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