Get ready to channel your inner King Kong in these tiny replicas of major metropolises from around the world. People might be easily amused, but who can resist the fascinating perspective that comes from a microcosmic view of the most famous cities in the world? From the Madurodam in The Netherlands to impressive Mini Europe in Belgium, discover the miniature towns built by model aficionados in a labor of love.
10. Madurodam, Netherlands
For a miniature-sized tour of the highlights of Holland, head to Madurodam, a tiny Dutch-style replica of the country’s most notable historical landmarks. Located in the Scheveningen district of The Hague, the tiny city opened in 1952 as a model replica at a scale of 1:25. Discover the cherished relics of Holland, all within steps of each other. At the City Centre, visitors can see on a small scale how the major cities of The Netherlands have evolved over the centuries, particularly during the Renaissance of the 16th century and the dramatic changes following the Second World War. They also have interactive exhibitions where you’ll have the chance to enter the tiny world of a lock keep or dyke guard. Some even let you operate a traditional watermill in Water World, a fascinating model of Holland’s canal and dyke systems.
9. Bekonscot Model Village, England
In remarkable preservation of rural England in the 1930s, get ready to enter the mini wonderland of Bekonscot Model Village in Beaconsfield, England. Built by Roland Callingham in his backyard, the tiny town has been open to visitors since 1929. For 80 years, people have been getting wonderfully lost in this little world filled with lakes, harbors, and working trains. Over the years, Bekonscot has been expanded and restored, making it a real-life depiction of the English countryside, complete with well-manicured garden hedges and blossoming flowers. Its most recent addition is 10 scale miles of railroad that connects the mini people to all corners of the town. Get ready to channel your inner child for a unique afternoon of tiny delights.
8. Miniatur Wunderland, Germany
Head to Hamburg, Germany to witness the world’s largest railway exhibition in the world, a tiny airport with a simulation of take-off and landing, and Europe’s top destinations. At Miniature Wunderland, visitors can get lost in a tiny dream world depicting the most beautiful areas on the continent, including the German villages of Knuffingen and Harz, a model of the Swiss Alps, the city center of Austria, and exhibitions of Scandinavia and Hamburg. The mini-theme park is also expanding, so you’ll get a chance to see the open workshops filled with craftsmen hard at work building the next tiny city. Next on the list of projects are Italy, France, and modern updates to the airport in the middle of the Swiss Alps. When it comes to the best of Europe, you’ll get to witness the mini version of the most beloved regions.
7. Wimborne Model Town, England
On the edge of Wimborne in Dorset, England, you’ll find a tiny world depicting the historic market town of Wimborne Minster exactly as it was during the 1950s. Built at a 1:10 scale, get ready to witness mini baker shops, old churches, and a model railway based on the popular Thomas the Tank Engine. One of the oldest and largest miniature towns in England, the mini world of Wimborne is a fascinating wonderland that preserves a piece of history in each concrete-made replica. The tiny-themed park includes 120 buildings, including 108 shop windows filled with post-war goods that were being sold at the time. In the 1980s, the park fell into disrepair, but luckily it was saved by a group of volunteers who restored it, turning it back into a major tourist attraction.
6. Tiny Town, United States
Tucked away in the foothills west of Denver is Tiny Town, a historic model village depicting a typical old-fashioned mountain town. What began as a project for his daughter in 1915 evolved into George Turner’s masterpiece that would eventually be known as Tiny Town. Since then it has expanded into a magical mini wonderland filled with kid-sized buildings, including a grocery store, barbershop, and bank. Over the years, the owners have added lakes and their impressive replica of the Rio Grande F7 train, an engineering masterpiece that runs on diesel. People travel from all over for a chance to ride the tiny train, a favorite afternoon activity for kids. But even if you’re too big to ride the little train, you can easily channel your inner child and explore the intricate models and details of one of America’s tiniest and most historic model towns.
5. Mini Mundi, Netherlands
For Dutch charm of the tiny variety, head to Mini Mundi in Middleburg, The Netherlands, a mini replica of the historical landmarks of the Old World village of Walcheren. With your giant strides, get ready to witness the 16th-century windmills, little cottages, and medieval churches of Holland’s ancient town. When the Queen commissioned it in the 1950s, it was only meant to be open for a few months, but because of its popularity, Walcheren is now a major tourist destination, especially among model architecture enthusiasts. The tiny harbor is also a delight with its 30 boats floating in the harbor and populated with little fisherman in a mini, Dutch-style fantasyland. It might be kid-sized, but people of all ages can marvel at the strikingly accurate buildings modeled at a scale of 1:20, including the Town Hall, Lange Jan abbey tower, and Vlissingen Boulevard.
4. Mini Siam, Thailand
In the tiny world of Mini Siam in Pattaya, Thailand, visitors can relish in the realistic replicas of the country’s most cherished landmarks. Built at a 1:25 scale, the theme park features Wat Phra Kaeo, a stunning model of the historic 18th-century palace that houses the Emerald Buddha in its Royal Chapel, the most sacred Buddhist symbol. You’ll also get an up-close look at a tiny version of the Panomrang Stone Temple, which is a real-life ancient relic built on an extinct volcano. You’ll also get to witness the miniature Anantasmakom Hall in the Dusit Palace of Bangkok, which was built in 1915 under the rule of King Rama VI. Mini Siam also has modern replicas like the Rama IX cable-stayed bridge that spans the Chao Phraya River. It might be tiny, but it will also be marvelous.
3. Miniaturk, Turkey
Although it has only been in the tiny world scene since 2003, Miniaturk in Istanbul, Turkey is a must-see on any mini-city tour. With 160,000 square feet of tiny marvels, it’s one of the biggest tiny towns in the world, including over 100 historical landmarks and notable ancient ruins. In one afternoon, visitors will have the chance to discover the mini version of Turkey’s rich historical and cultural tapestry that is literally within arm’s reach. Located on the coast of Golden Horn, explore the replicas of Hagia Sophia, Mount Nemrud, and the ancient ruins of Ephesus, among the other notable structures. The newest addition to the mini world is Bosphorus Bridge, the 1970s suspension bridge connecting Europe and Asia. The park also contains hundreds of replicas from the Ottoman, Anatolia, and Istanbul territories that have survived over the centuries.
2. Le Petit-Paris, France
The mini-town of Le Petit-Paris is a remarkable one-man feat and two-decade labor of love for the model aficionado and craftsman Gerard Brion. Built in his backyard, the miniature model of Paris is quite impressive. It might take weeks to explore the real Paris, but here you can see all the highlights of the City of Lights within a few steps of each other. Amazingly, the Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, and grand boulevards look almost like the real thing but are made from repurposed materials and random junk. At night the city lights up with hundreds of little lights, just like the real Paris in this magical mini-land depicting France’s beloved metropolis. It even has a scaled-down model of Notre Dame in all its miniature Gothic splendor.
1. Mini Europe, Belgium
Of all the mini replicas of Europe, the most impressive is Mini Europe in Belgium. What started out as a research and education project in 1985 has evolved into a miniature world filled with the best of Europe. At a scale of 1:25, the theme park contains over 80 cities and 350 buildings that span the far reaches of Europe, including the Palace of Versailles, the clock tower of Big Ben, and the ancient churches of Venice. In one afternoon, visitors can also witness the miniature versions of major historical events like the fall of the Berlin Wall, the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, and traditional bullfights in Seville. When it comes to famous landmarks of Europe, this tiny-themed park covers all the hotspots of the continent. On such a small scale, you’ll be able to see all the important landmarks just outside of Brussels.