Built in 1958 for the World’s Fair. The shape represents an Iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. It was built to represent the faith one had in the power of science and more specifically nuclear power.
Between 2004 and 2006 the entire structure was renovated as the state of the building had become quite bad. The renovation included replacing the outer metal sheeting. LED lighting was also added in order to both illuminate the structure at night, but the lights can also animate around the meridian lines simulating the motion of electrons around their core.
Ironically, though it depicts an iron crystal, the original outer sheeting was made from aluminum, though in the renovations that was replaced with shiny stainless steel which is mostly iron. Secondarily though the subject was chosen to celebrate the Atomic age and nuclear power, iron itself cannot be used as fuel in nuclear reactions.
There are 9 spheres in total. All but 3 are open to the public. The bottom sphere house the permanent exhibition on the history of the building. Another sphere hosts temporary exhibitions. The central spheres can be used for a variety of events, films, conferences, etc. The top sphere houses the panoramic view as well as the restaurant. Another of the sphere is for school children who can spend the night there. The tubes connecting the spheres contains escalators which is how you move from sphere to sphere.
Today it is the most important tourist attraction in Brussels. I really want to go there.
Brussels Town Hall Spire
This one came from a random helicopter shot of a statue on top of a spire, which looked to be a man standing on a demon with perhaps a long tongue on it.
Surprisingly it didn’t take a lot of effort to find out what it was or where it was. It is atop the spire of the Brussels Town Hall. The town hall was built in 1420, though it had been added on to in the years after. It is located in the Grand Place in Brussels and is the only remaining medieval building there. It is considered a masterpiece of civil Gothic architecture.
But back to the spire.. at the top of the spire stands a 5-meter-high gilt metal statue of the Archangel Michael, patron saint of Brussels, slaying a devil. Saint Michael is also known as the Angel of the Apocalypse. According to the Bible, Saint Michael fought Lucifer during the rebellion of the fallen angels and cast him out of the Heavens.
I don’t know I’ve seen anything similar atop a building before. Not only in the form of it, but the style of the design is also incredibly strange and cool looking. Not to mention that the devil/demon is also purple.
Château de Laeken
Unlike the Palais Royale, Laeken Castle is the actual residence of the Belgian monarchy. Leopold I, the first King of the Belgians, added several pieces of adjoining land to the estate. Leopold II wanted Laeken to be used as a meeting place. He increased the size of the castle, further expanded the estate, had the park laid out to a new plan and decided in 1868 to build the enormous greenhouse complex.
Its the greenhouses that I am more interested in. The architect was Alphonse Balat. The various greenhouses, linking galleries, and outbuildings were erected in several phases between 1874 and 1905. The final extensions were completed after Balat’s death by the architects Henri Maquet and Charles Girault.
Leopold II called on the leading botanists, nurserymen, and suppliers to turn the greenhouse collections of plants and flowers into some of the loveliest in Europe.
The public can visit the greenhouses only a couple of weeks a year.
For me, its the structure and the ironwork that I find most interesting although I am certain the plants inside are spectacular.
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