19 Apr

As a tourist, there are places you go knowing that you will just be one in the crowd.  Some of these places are important because they are pieces of history.  They celebrate a moment in time and are so epic that missing them means that you kind of missed the point.  Some places are a treasury of beauty.  Masterpieces of art or of nature, they remind you of the power of humanity and its frailty.  Still other places are visited because of their personal value, be they romantic or a memorial.  They allow us a physical place to center an emotion.  Lastly, there are the places that really have to no good reason to visit them but that compelling urge to see what is there.  And that, my friends, is where the Atomium comes in.

The Atomium was built as part of a World’s Fair that took place in Brussels in 1958.  It was a super futuristic attempt at iconography.  It captured a moment where everybody knew that nuclear energy would be part of the future, for better or worse.  Those crazy Belgians enlarged an iron crystal 165 billion times and put escalators inside of it.  You know, for tourists… or scientists… or whatever.

Now I know full well that I could ride escalators here at home.  I could go the Mall of America and make a day of it.  But those escalators aren’t in a big and shiny metal structure.  And while they might sell t-shirts there they won’t have t-shirts with a big and shiny iron crystal enlarged 165 billion times on them. 

I could try to dignify my wish to see the Atomium by saying that it has exhibits about science, history and art.  I could even say that the view from the Atomium will likely be the best we will have of Belgium.  But I think we all know that I just want to go there because it looks cool and is about as serious as a Pez dispenser.  God bless Belgium.  They even have an Atomium Beer.

Click link to get Atomi(um)ized!


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