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EXPO 58



The (splendid) web site of a Belgian Expo 58 nostalgic.
(click on picture)


Collection of Original Beer mats from Belgian breweries at the Expo 58
 


The web site of the Atomium
 

THE HEYSEL EXHIBITION PARK AND THE ATOMIUM

 THE HEYSEL EXHIBITION PARK

In the 1930's Belgium wanted to organize a world exhibition to show its prosperity after the disasters of World War I and also to celebrate the centenary of its independence. The exhibition surface in the central Cinquantenaire park had become too small. Therefore, it was decided that the Expo of 1935 was to take place north of the center of Brussels, in the Heizel/Heysel plains. This area had already been prepared for urbanization during the reign of Leopold II who had purchased 200 hectare of free land. His original plans, however, had never been realized.

The exhibition of 1935

This major event took 10 years to organize. The results, however, were impressive. More than 20 million visitors came to Brussels, 182 buildings were constructed, 25 countries participated, more than 300 congresses, parades, festivals and concerts were organized. Each country was represented in a national pavilion were national products and accomplishments were shown to the rest of the world. Belgium also built a colonial pavilion to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Congo Freestate. Furthermore, a giant attraction park and a reconstruction of "old Brussels" drew large crowds to the Heysel.
The most eye-catching buildings are still on the site today. The Centenary halls are on the northern side of the Heysel. It is here that today still the Brussels trade fairs are organized On the left side of these halls, the lamps can be seen of the former Heysel football stadium, which was also originally built in 1930. After the Heysel tragedy in 1985, the football stadium was rebuilt in 1993 and is now called the King Boudewijn stadium.

The exhibition of 1958

The only major monument of 1958 that has remained at the Heysel is also the most spectacular: the Atomium (see below). This was the first world exhibition to take place after World War II. The entire economic outlook was much better than in the 1930's (the creation of the European Economic Community in 1957) and the world was vibrating with enthusiasm for the new technologies (nuclear power, the first satellite launch by the soviets, etc.). Over 35 million people visited the Expo 58 and 46 countries from six continents were represented. Most pavilions were built in a very modern futuristic architectural style which became the symbol of that era.

Nowadays the Heysel park is still visited by many. Next to the football stadium is KINEPOLIS, a major movie complex with 28 cinema rooms and a giant IMAX screen. Another main attraction is the beautiful MINI-EUROPE park, which contains miniature models (scale 1:25) of major monuments from the member states of the European Union.

THE ATOMIUM

This monument from 1958 has become the Eiffel Tower of Brussels. The Atomium is the visual representation of the concept of an "atom". It symbolizes an elementary iron crystal with its 9 atoms and magnified 150 billion times. It honored the metal and iron industry and the belief in the atomic power. The architect was André WATERKEYN. It took 18 months to conceive and another 18 months to construct. The monument is coated with aluminum, weighs 2.400 tons and<<Selectie in document>> is 102 meters high. Each sphere has a diameter of 18 meters. An elevator takes visitors to the upper sphere where one can enjoy a panoramic view of the Heysel area and (if the weather is good) the city of Brussels. There is also a good buffet-restaurant (Chez Adrienne) in the upper sphere. In the other spheres expositions are organized. They can be visited by means of escalators. In the past years the monument has been completely restored and renovated and is now as shiny and beautiful again as in its first years.

Location
Eeuwfeestlaan/ Boulevard du Centenaire 1020 Brussels (Laken)

Opening hours
Sept. to March: 10 a.m. till 5.30 p.m. April to August: 9 a.m. till 7.30 p.m.

Admission
Adults : 5,45 €  (Euro) per person,  Children (under 12) : 3,97 € (Euro)
Groups (as from 20 persons): 4,46 € (Euro) per adult person, 3,47 € (Euro) per child under 12
Senior citizens : 3,72 € (Euro)


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