Antomium: inside the world’s largest cell
A silver ball, shaped like an atom, so large that it takes several escalators to reach the center, in the middle of Brussels. Sounds like the mother-of-all tourists traps, doesn’t it? That’s what we thought, but our inner science-geeks fell for it anyway, and we are so glad we did. It was a one-of-a-kind hands-on experience for our girls who literally learned from the inside out.
Walking up to the Antomium
What’s the fuss about?
The Antomium is a single iron cell magnified 165 billion times. That alone will get your kids to pause a split second. Enjoy the silence, because then the questions are going to come so rapidly, you might as well leave the office Brussels info site up and running. Nine individual pods (or spheres) are connected through escalators and lifts. For the claustrophobe in you, each pod is the size of a large apartment. In fact, the Antomium has pods for sleepovers available to schools and private parties. That’s almost enough to make me want to move to Brussels. Can you imagine getting the invite for a kid’s 6th birthday party, up five stories looking over the entire valley?
What you will experience and see
In addition to the amazing views of the area from the pods, inside are fascinatingly detailed exhibitions on permanent display about the World Fair of 1958 wherein it was created, and then rotating exhibitions on other feats of man. Four of the pods are open to the public full-time, but only accessible via escalators, so those with limited mobility or in wheelchairs will be disappointed. Other than the pods reserved for students or sleepover areas, the rest of open and accessible.
View of Brussels from one of the pods, and the inside of a pod–which hovers above the ground–available for sleepovers! You just have to get there.
Best times to go
We lucked out, going in the dinner hour, between 4-6. It was still crowded, but the line wait was only about 20 minutes, and it was quite open inside, not jammed packed. Even on the website, which we looked at briefly before going, it identified the best times are between 12-2 p.m. and 4-6 p.m.
The Antomium is located in the Heysel district of Brussels. It’s the last stop on the metro, line 6 (and you wonder why I incorporate the metro in my contemporary romance series set in Europe. The metro is the way to get around within a city. The tram line 7 is the other way to reach the Antomium, or of course, you can drive or take a cab. It’s a short walk, and you simply can’t miss it.
Since you are there, you must stop at the Mini-Europe Theme Park, which allows you to see all the major sites from around Europe in miniature. I’ll like the blog when it’s up.
We’ll get to the Mini-Europe Theme Park next
Reasonable. Kids under 6 are free, and from there it’s 8-12 Euros with discounts for seniors. A note to Americans, the Antomium includes a price for the “teen” category, as is the norm with most Euro parks. Travelers from Europe who come to the States are always in for a shock, unaccustomed to either kid or adult.
Pictures and trinkets
We never, ever purchase souvenirs because it goes against our basic philosophy of living in the present. If and when we do buy an item, it tends to be “useful,” which I put in quotes because that definition, in our family, is constantly up for debate (what’s useful for one person is a ridiculous spend to another). Still, when we were at the Antomium, we couldn’t threw rules out the proverbial window and purchased three sets of pictures—teeny tiny ones- 1×1 inches, and then a larger one with a silly mascot. We are quite thankful we did, because it’s one of the only pictures we have the girls together at that age. Additionally, we bit the bullet and purchased, not one or two, but three Antomium replicas. Two, 2×2 inch size for the girls and then a larger one for us which sits on our glass stand at home. It’s side beside a handful of other items representing our best times together. That pretty much says it all: this was an incredibly fun experience and family day (again, we combined that day with the Euro Park). Eve if you are by yourself or with a friend, make the time to drop by. It’s so unique and off the radar of major sites, you’ll be glad you did.