The brightest and most haunting place of interest in The Hague is Madurodam – the smallest of all cities in The Netherlands, which is actually the whole Holland in miniature. Only 13,50 euros and the whole Holland is at your feet! And we are not joking. This is an amazing form of entertainment for amateurs. Similar parks of mini-cities and mini-countries are scattered around the world: Madurodam in The Hague, Miniaturwunderland in Hamburg, mini-Europe in Brussels, Italy in miniature in Rimini and the like.
Madurodam is not only a center for entertainment but a tribute to the reminiscence of the heroes of World War 2nd. It was established in 1952 and named after George Maduro – the Dutch Resistence hero, who died in Dachau. His parents made the first contribution to the building of the park, and the proceeds are used for charity purposes. Formerly, it was a sanatorium for students sick with Tuberculosis to allow them not only to be cured, but also continue their studies.
Madurodam miniature park is located not far from Amsterdam: it will take you an hour or so to get there from the capital city and tulip fields. This is an ideal place to find everything that makes Holland so remarkable: tulip fields, canal houses, Deltaworks, cheese markets, Peace Palace and windmills.
The plan of the park was carried out by architect Siebe Jan Bouma, who created the motto of the city as well: “A city with a smile”. The idea of Madurodam was not exceptional; it was inspired by the miniature city Baconsfield in England. The Dutch people flavored the invention with their famous sense of humor: they made their mind up to choose a mayor for Madurodam and right after the construction was finished, they gave the honor to Queen Beatrice, who then still was a Princess. After her inauguration as a queen, every year a new mayor for Madurodam has been selected by the Youth Council of Hague from its members, who also make decisions on directing financial means from Madurodam to various charity purposes.
Madurodam comprises three theme areas: Water World, Innovation Island and the City Center. The most beautiful buildings of old cities of The Netherlands are situated in the City Center. To learn about “water as friend and foe” you should investigate the Water World and to admire Holland as an inspirational power of architecture, sports, entertainment, art, innovation and design for the world there is the Innovation Island. The most popular “buildings” in Madurodam are the National Museum, the Royal Palace, churches and the Airport of Amsterdam, the Netherlands University of Architecture in Rotterdam, Binnenhof, the Peace Palace and the Mauritshuis Museum in Hague. And naturally there are windmills everywhere: it is impossible to imagine The Netherlands without them as long as these have become the symbol of the country.
All miniatures of Madurodam are made on 1:25 scale. Walking through Madurodam one starts feeling the relativity of sizes imagining the real sizes of this or that miniature when compared to the whole city. The models of buildings are mainly made of plastic, the trees are natural but also very small; in most cases they are dwarf breeds of their real-size relatives. It may take up to 3 months to create a miniature of a certain building and it can be quite a costly project. For instance, more than 450,000 EUR was spent on the construction of the miniature of St. John Cathedral!
What boosts the excitement is that this tiny city seems to be living life in full motion instead of being just another static open-air museum. There are cars driving along the streets, boats floating in canals and miniatures of people. By the way, the“locals” wear coats and hats in winter and tops or T-shirts in summer. They even have their own Christmas tree and skating ring in winter, while the cozy shops are stuffed with cool souvenirs year round. Everything is so realistic, that one can easily mix them with real-life equivalents. However the brightest color to all this is given by ravens – real ones peacefully sitting here and there at most unexpected positions: this is when you feel a giant in a small city! And to make everything even more real-like some buildings are covered with scaffolds: sometimes you come to a place and see it is under restoration, isn’t it?
The people who made the whole park should be honored in their utmost: just look at the miniature of Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, it even contains the mini variant of Rembrandt’s Nachtwacht. You simply bend a little to see through the windows of the museum and voila! It is possible for one to finally see the famous Dam Square without entertaining bells and whistles, which stand there in real. Taking photographs becomes easy and convenient at once: better angle choices, no crowds to disturb, the mini-models are in shots with the whole size and you are finally allowed to take photographs of the Red Light District, which is forbidden to do in real life. Just imagine the excitement of seeing the whole panorama of Royal Palaces: that would be impossible unless you turn into a bird to fly high and enjoy the view. It is pleasant to see that vast territories of Holland are covered in green: you realize it only after seeing the miniature of the country, and after going out of the park you notice trees and grass first place.
In airports all planes are getting ready to set off making circles on the ground. The trains roam on the Holland territory, windmills twist their millstones, ultramodern buildings are under construction and even the factory Mars is producing its famous candies: what else is needed for happiness? Madurodam is open for interaction: one can operate the Oosterschelde storm surge barrier, take wing on a plane from Schiphol Airport, load and unload containers on cargo ships in Rotterdam Port and bet on the flower auction. And as in every entertainment center, Madurodam also follows the rule of “any caprice on your money”: the multiple figures will start moving, roundabouts spinning and music playing with only 20 euros extra payment.
To keep the vivid, vibrant memory of this incomparable experience, go to the Madurodam shop and buy anything from wide the arrangement of surprising Dutch products and souvenirs. Once you have finished this exploration, you will find the answer to an essential question: “why visit a miniature Holland when you are in huge Holland?” The answer is clear as a tear – everyone feels a child at the bottom of his heart once in Madurodam. Once appeared in a mini-city you will have a dream-come-true for the best wish of being a Gulliver!
Ticket prices: €15,50 per person, and if you buy the ticket online you’ll get a discount and a ticket will cost you €13,50. If you visit the park with family or friends, buying 3 tickets you get 1 for free, so it’ll cost you in total €46,50 for 3+1 people. But check prices on the website in case there has been a recent change.
Opening hours: Madurodam park is open all year round. You can check out the opening hours on the park’s official website.