BELGIUM ATOMIUM
Yves Logghe  /  AP
The Atomium was restored to its shiny splendor Friday, with the faded aluminum sheets on the nine balls fully replaced with hardy stainless steel.
updated 9/16/2005 4:18:25 PM ET 2005-09-16T20:18:25

The Atomium, one of Belgium's most famous landmarks, was restored to its shiny splendor Friday, the faded aluminum sheets on the nine balls fully replaced with hardy stainless steel.

The choice of material was prompted by Belgium's notoriously wet and windy weather. On Friday, early rains already lashed the monument.

The structure has nine balls with a 59-foot diameter. It represents a large-scale metal molecule, and was built to celebrate the 1958 World's Fair in the Belgian capital.

Even though the outer sheeting has been fully replaced, renovations are still continuing inside and the Atomium is only to reopen sometime in January.

The cost of the renovation is expected to be about $33 million. To help pay for it, the old aluminum has been sold to the public as souvenirs. A triangular piece about 6 1/2 feet long sold for $1,300.

The 335-foot Atomium is located just next to the country's King Baudouin stadium on the outskirts of the city at the former World's Fair site.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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