Like Alice in Wonderland you too can feel the wonders of being smaller than a speck of dust, or taller than a house, and without all the trouble of figuring out which side of the caterpillar’s mushroom does which. Located right next to each other are two great attractions a short walk from Heysel / Heizel metro station in Brussels. The first being Atomium, which being a giant atomic structure can give you the feeling of being infinitesimally small, and the second Mini-Europe where even kids walk around buildings like giants.
In 1958 the World Expo was to be held in Brussels, and for the event, one of Brussels most modern buildings was born: Atomium. You will probably see this monument on the horizon almost everywhere in Brussels assuming you are high enough. The interesting shape is modeled after an individual iron crystal which has been increased in size by about 165,000,000,000 times the actual size. When we arrived we saw a very long line, but realized soon after it was moving very quickly, and our entry wasn’t far at all. When you purchase your tickets, you will have the option to use an audio guide, or join in on a guided tour. Steven and I have a history of going off the beaten path so we started heading up on our own.
From sphere to sphere you will find yourself confronted with a number of exhibitions; the permanent articles include pieces originally from Expo ’58. The number of cars, models, art pieces, and historical articles are all well preserved, and while a large crowd can limit the time you have to look, there is definitely more than enough. After being moved upwards by escalators you will eventually reach the top sphere where a 360° view of the city waits. Once you manage to get against a wall it isn’t hard to see the whole thing and get pictures of things you may not have seen from the ground. If you like to travel on a whim this is also a great spot to get an eagle-eye view of where you might visit next. When you are finished in top sphere head over to the elevator, and don’t forget to head to the gift shop (where many unique souvenirs can be found) before heading to the next stop, Mini-Europe.
Entering Mini-Europe you will most definitely feel a change in scale from Automium, whether you have seen more of Europe or not, the miniature world is an entertaining stop. You can see all of the most famous landmarks and buildings in Europe, and even interact with a large number of the displays. All of the displays include a placard, telling you what and where you are looking at. You can find out the year the home country joined the European Union, the currency they use, and other interesting demographics. While you can pose with the monuments yourself, Steven and I like to carry around our little companion Mon Chi Chi, at his stature all of the monuments were life size, and for the first time in his life, he really felt like he fit in. Bringing along a similar toy can make Mini-Europe an experience for anyone; how will you pose them? Where in the the scene can you reach to place it? It can be tough taking a picture so you only see the monument in question, but for a realistic photo this is key. Each piece within Mini-Europe presents its own unique challenge, but those challenges definitely come with a reward. Check out the gallery below to see how we did.
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