The elaborate architecture of the Grand Place in Brussels, medieval Bruges, and historic Gent are all absolutely stunning. But after a week of feeling overwhelmed by the majesty of it all, my American-ness came out and I was relieved to go see something newer: the Atomium.
Designed for the 1958 World’s Fair, the Atomium symbolizes an iron crystal, magnefied 165 billion times. It has nine silver spheres connected by 20 tubes and stands 102 metres high. Five of the nine spheres are open to the public, including the uppermost with a viewing platform and restaurant. From there we could see the mini-Europe park below and all of Brussels, old and new. Inside the spheres were modern art exhibits and history of the Atomium.
The cafe, the artwork, and even the souvenirs took us back to 1958 — not 1258 or 1458 or 1758. I needed that leap back into more recent times. It was a breath of fresh air; an experience that is uniquely Brussels.
Now I’m ready for more history.