The Hague’s Madurodam and Hamburg’s Miniatur Wunderland are big attractions in their respective cities. They take historic buildings and skylines and break them down into accessible miniature replicas. The architectural accuracy of the models alone at both sites makes them worth visiting. However, they each have a number of additional features that you will remember for years to come.
Madurodam is pretty straightforward as a tourist attraction. The models there focus exclusively on The Netherlands and will give you a great representation on the architecture across the country. I can tell you this; many people had a lot of fun putting together Madurodam.
Scattered around the park are dozens of videos (in Dutch, but with English subtitles) that explain buildings, Dutch culture and weird facts. The humor really strikes a tone with all ages. Even if you think looking at scale replicas isn’t your thing, you will be pleasantly surprised. You can try your hand at a simulated flower-auction, purchase a pair of mini-clogs delivered by truck from a mini clog-factory, watch model boats go through fully functional locks and lift weights that look like cheese wheels!
I personally enjoyed the birds wandering through the outdoor site clashing in scale with micro buildings and vehicles. Tons of fun. Pro tip: Don’t go when it’s raining.
Madurodam is a great way to feel like you’ve seen all of Holland in about two hours. Just a note, it took us three hours. We were simply having too much fun. If you want to see more of the world in miniature, you need to head west to Hamburg.
Miniatur Wunderland – e.g. ‘Miniature Wonderland’ – is Hamburg’s most popular attraction for good reason. It is the largest model railway in the world! There is a good chance your first reaction will be “Who had the time to put this whole exhibit together?” As the truth would have it, there are many people spending a lot of time painting and crafting these convincing scenes.
The level of detail is astounding. Figures just millimeters high are bursting with character. It’s like playing a huge 3-D version of Where’s Waldo without knowing exactly who you are looking for. The scenes themselves also have their moments of levity as well if you look closely.
Miniatur Wunderland has permanent exhibits which feature Switzerland, Scandinavia, Germany, Austria, and the United States. (Coming soon – Italy!) The models effectively capture some of the most recognizable features of these regions. Authenticity of these regions is also enhanced by day/night cycles. Speaking of authentic, the working replica of an Airport is a wonder to behold.
In addition to these giant exhibitions they also have several rooms devoted to special exhibits which capture historical moments in miniature form. You can spend the entire day looking at miniatures and still feel like there is more to experience. We spent 6 hours at a very crowded Miniature Wonderland!
We enjoyed both of these museums and would highly recommend a visit to one or both. You will be surprised how compelling and engaging something so small can be!
For more pictures of Madurodam and Miniatur Wunderland, please check out our new Travel Gallery page!