No its not the end of the world, this atomium is very peaceful. Just sitting there in a vast park complex of sights , gearing high into the sky at 102 meters high. As in many cities, this tall structure has become a symbol of Brussels. Not too much into high rises even in Paris, but you need to be here once lol!!!
It was set up to show case technology for the Universal exposition of 1958, and that was it. However, the popularity rose from there to new highs today,and it is there to stay.
There are 9 spherical balls of which 5 are accessible to the public; there is a permanent exposition on the the Universal Expo of ’58 in spheres 1 and 2;the other 3 are to show temporary expositions on spheres 2,4,5. The most expectacular views is from the bottom taking one of the fastest lift/elevators in Europe (about 5 meters per seconds or 18kph ) you go to sphere 7, where there are glass windows to give a marvelous view of the Brussels sky. The information is given in several languages.
You get here from city centre Brussels by taking the metro line 6 stop Heysel that leaves you about 300 meters from entrance thru a parking area you cut it in half. The open tour bus does stops here at about 20 meters from entrance. You ,also, can take metro line 1 at De Brouckére (near Grand Place) to Beekkant and connect with line 6 there to Heysel.
Some figures for the monument are extraordinary, The spheres are connected by 20 tubes or connector escalators with 12 stops; it has 45000 photos in Flickr, 60000 in picasa, 13000 in facebook, and 600 000 visitors per year. You can rent it for private affaires 100 of them last year, visit by a dozen heads of state etc. There are five imitations of smaller scale in the world such as OZD Hungary, Minimundus Austria, Universal expo Seville , Miniwelt Lichtenstein, and Parque Europa Torrejon de Ardoz outside Madrid. Other structures offering similar views in the world are Tour de Tokyo, Fernsehtrum Germany, La perle de l’Orient China, Tour Eiffel France.
You have a panoramic restaurant at sphere 8 or level 8; and snack areas on the Atomium webpage http://atomium.be/#/FoodAndDrinks.aspx for which we decided to eat out in the Village between the Atomium and Mini Europe and not a good choice it was. L’Arbre d’Or was slow, unipersonal, pricey, touristic but then again nothing new , you are in a very heavey tourist area. http://www.larbredor.be/arbredor/inter2rouge.htm
The atomium has an area fro kids and school outings. done on special shop days or with school tours. In all, we left with the impression we have been here before, another high rise tower with a view. HOwever, its very popular with folks from all over the world, and a visit at least once is worth it. Enjoy some pictures. Cheers