"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years." - Abraham Lincoln

Posted on August 18, 2016 by Sioux under General


On the only full day I had in Brussels, I did the hop-on-hop-off bus tour and spent quite a few hours tramping about in ‘Mini-Europe’, a massive park located in Bruparck at the foot of the Atomium in Brussels. The Atomium is a building in Brussels originally constructed for ‘Expo 58’, the 1958 Brussels World Fair. The massive structure is visible from all over the park.


Standing 102m tall, its nine 18m diameter stainless steel clad spheres are connected so forming the shape of a unit cell of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. It is now a museum. In the 1950s, faith in scientific progress was great, and a structure depicting atoms was chosen to embody this. Though many believe the Atomium depicts an atom, in fact it depicts 9 of them. In layman’s terms, the Atomium depicts the precise layout of the iron atoms of an iron crystal. 

IMG_8762 LR (1 of 1)
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IMG_8729 LR (1 of 1)
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IMG_7611 LR (1 of 1) Atomium
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Though the Atomium depicts an iron unit cell, the balls were clad with aluminum instead of iron. Following the 2004-2007 renovations, however, the aluminum was replaced with stainless steel, which is primarily iron. Likewise, while the subject of Atomium was chosen to depict the enthusiasm of the Atomic Age, iron is not and cannot be used as fuel in nuclear reactions.   

The Mini-Europe park houses reproductions of monuments in the European

Union, at a scale of 1:25. Roughly 80 cities and 350 buildings are

represented. The monuments were chosen for the quality of their architecture

or their European symbolism. Most were made using moulds, with the final

copy cast from epoxy resin, but now polyester is used. Three of the monuments

were made out of stone (e.g. the tower of Pisa, in marble).

After painting the monument s were installed on site, with decorations and lighting added. The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela required more than 24,000 hours of work. Many of the monuments were financed by European countries or regions. The Brussels Grand Place model cost €350,000 to make, ad indicated very clearly how beautiful it looks during the August ‘flower carpet’ month!

Tubes of 3m diameter connect the spheres along the 12 edges of the cube and all eight vertices to the centre. They enclose stairs, escalators and a lift (in the central, vertical tube) to allow access to the five habitable spheres which contain exhibit halls and other public spaces. The top sphere includes a restaurant which has a panoramic view of Brussels. CNN named it Europe’s most bizarre building. 



2 responses to “Brussels – part 2 – how to see ‘Europe’ in a day!”

  1. Paul says:

    The mini land still looks well maintained? As opposed to our Santarama at Wemmer pan, that is fast falling apart. The Atomium is certainly a sight to behold.

  2. Ursula Evans says:

    love this

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