Travel metasearch company Skyscanner ( online comparison platform for flights, hotels and car rental) has bought the London based startup Twizoo ( Founded in May 2013 by Madeline Parra and John Talbott).
Twizoo specializes in development of a platform for automating social content distribution.
Skyscanner’s CTO Bryan mentioned that the company’s aim is to “serve all traveler needs, from inspiration through to planning and booking”.
The Atomium is located next to Mini-Europe park (which has miniatures of the famous monuments of EU at a scale of 1:25) beside the King Baudouin Stadium. It is a structure which represents a unit cell of an iron crystal. True to its representation, it has nine spheres made of steel (earlier it was made of aluminum) connected by tubes along the twelve edges of the cube. The structure is 334.6 ft. high with the spheres having diameter of 59 ft. Its stability is ensured by three bipods. The details of the spheres and the locations of the various attractions within the spheres are given in the image here. Please click on the image to enlarge.
The Atomium was built for Expo’1958 – the 1958 Brussels World fair in Belgium. It was designed by Andre Waterkeyn. (the central sphere has been named after him after his demise). The architects were Andre and Jean Polak. It was meant to last just for the Expo (from 17th April to 19th October 1958) but its popularity resulted in it being made permanent. The structure is quite impressive.
It is all the more impressive since the skyline is not spoiled by other tall structures. Inside, the tubes which connect the spheres contain escalators, exhibit halls et al. The top sphere affords an excellent panoramic view of the city including an aerial view of the stadium. Three of the upper spheres are closed to public for safety reasons – since they lack the requisite vertical support. The sphere at the pinnacle is open to the public.
About the Spheres- The top and central spheres are accessible only by lift. The others spheres can be accessed by the steep escalators and these cannot be accessed by people on wheelchairs. The base sphere (called Henri Storck sphere) has permanent exhibition dedicated to the fifties. The central sphere has a bar. The kids sphere is meant for sleep overs for children from school. This is not open to the public.
The Atomium was closed for nearly two years between 2004 and 2006 for renovation. This was when the aluminium sheets were replaced with steel ones. The interiors were also redone.
More about the Atomium (Atomium Statistics):
DIMENSION OF ATOMIUM:
Height – 102 metres
Weight – 2400 tons SPHERES: Surface – 1082 sq. metres / 240 sq. metres per level
Diametre – 18m TUBES BETWEEN SPHERES: 20 Tubes
Diameter – 3m
Length – 18m or 23m BIPODS: Height – 35m
Steps -200 GROUNDFOOR: Diameter – 26m STEPS:
Steps up – 84
Steps Down – 187 Lift Speed – 5m/sec Construction – 1958 Renovation – 2003-2006
How to get to the Atomium in Brussels – By metro (subway) – Get down at the Haysel/Heizal metro station on line 1A. This can taken from Station Brussels Central.
By Coach – Take the Brussels Ring Road, then to exit 8 and then follow the direction to Atomium. It’s well marked.
By car – For GPS – Eeuwfeestlaan/Blvd. de Centenaire or Atomium Square
B-1020 Brussels (Laken-Laeken)
Information about getting around in Brussels can be obtained from the following Link.
Ticket Price – Ranges from Free (for Children less than 12 years, Bus drivers & Disabled persons) to € 9 for Adults. Seniors (over 65 years) – € 6. The rates differ for groups. Minimum persons required to qualify as a group is 20. Pavilion of Happiness rate is € 5 for everyone. Combo tickets are also available for Pavilion of Temporary Happiness and Atomium.
For the 50th year commemoration of Expo’58, a number of activities based on the Theme “Brussels Happiness” is taking place.
Leading off from the Grand Place square, a little distance away past crowded streets in a corner is the statue called Manneken Pis. This is a bronze statue of a small naked boy peeing. It is a fountain, with water replacing the pee! This is the most famous statue of Belgium. However, tourists expect it to be big, but it is actually a very small statue placed in a corner of narrow streets. The Manneken-Pis is at the corner of the Rue de l’Etuve and the Rue du Chene. The Rue Charles Buls leading from the Square becomes the Rue de l’Etuve. The statue is dressed up in colorful costumes on different occasions according to a weekly schedule. The Manneken-Pis has several hundred costumes. The changing of costumes is accompanied by live music.
The exact legend behind this statue is unclear since there are several of them. One version is that the statue is of a two year old duke whose troops took him with them during their fight against the Berthouts. He is supposed to have urinated on the enemy troops. Another version suggests the story of a small boy who urinated on the fuse of explosives to prevent them from exploding. They were planted by enemies trying to destroy Brussels. Another version as we noted on the shop front just opposite the statue talks about the story of Manneken Pis, also known as Le Petit Julien: “in 1619, I was 5 years old. I got lost in Brussels. After 2 days of frantic searching, my father, a nobleman, found me in an embarrassing position…peeing. As a token of gratitude, he ordered a fountain to be build, with a statue depicting me in that same position.” The picture of this poster is given on the right (click to enlarge).
The Manneken Pis has a female counterpart called the Jeanneke Pis. This is a modern piece of sculpture made of limestone, by Denis-Adrien Debouvrie, in 1985 and erected in 1987. This is located on the other of the Grand Place away from Manneken Pis. It is in the east side of Impasse de la Fidélité (Faith Alley) which is a narrow dead end street leading off from Rue des Bouchers (Butchers’ Street).
How to get to the Manneken Pis- After reaching Grand place take the Rue Charles Buls which becomes the Rue de l’Etuve. The Statue is at the corner of Rue de l’Etuve and Rue du Chene. The details of getting around Brussels is given here. In the picture below, the left hand street is Rue de l’Etuve and the street on the right is Rue du Chene.
Probably the most beautiful edifice in Brussels, the Town Hall or Hôtel de Ville or Stradhuis (yes, it has a number of names!) stands prominently in the Grand Place Square with its 315 feet tall tower. It is the official seat of the Mayor of Brussels though the administration is located on the Anspach Blvd. Its importance however is not due this. It is a historic structure which had its inception in 1402 when the construction began. On this site there were some wooden structures – shops and inns – which were demolished to make way for the Town Hall. The original new building was just the left half or the current structure with a small tower. The architect Jacob van Thienen is credited with this work. In 1444 this building was extended with a right wing which was smaller though to that on the left (the authorities did not want to over run the existing street on the right). Thus the tower is not in the middle. This construction and the current tower were complete in 1449. Jan Van Ruysbroeck is the architect of the tower. In 1455 the statue of St. Michael (shown as triumphant after slaying the Devil) was installed on the top of the Tower. This statue was only removed in 1996 to be replaced by a new one.
The original structure has undergone a number of restoration works. In 1695 after the French attack (by troops of De ville roy) the building suffered immense damage. It was immediately thereafter restored. By the early 19th century the structure required restoration due to wear and tear – mainly on the statues adorning the building. In the 1840s another restoration work entailed the beautification of the façade with over 200 little statues of the Dukes and Duchesses of Brabant from 6th century A.D. to the 16th century. The Duchy of Brabant consisted of the Flemish Brabant, Walloon Brabant, Antwerp, Brussels and the Dutch province of North Brabant during the Roman times. It has numerous sculptures on its sides. Ornate and beautiful, the tower has a overpowering presence in the square.
That was a little note on the history of the place. It is a great experience even today. The Grand Place is a obvious stop in Brussels for a tourist. The details of how to get around Brussels are given here.