Holland in a nutshell

True to the original Madurodam in the Netherlands

True to the original Madurodam in the Netherlands  

Madurodam, a miniature model city, offers a bird’s eye view of the Netherlands in amazing detail. Soma Basu on the king size experience

Fancy doing the Netherlands in two hours? If you can go around the world in 80 days, I bet you can go on a walking tour of the Netherlands in flat 120 minutes! You can even walk around in the Kingdom of Netherlands like a giant and a victorious warrior. Wondering what I am talking about?

Well, this is a place, quite interestingly, called the “Madurodam”. Located in Scheveningen, The Hague, it is a miniature model city created incredibly to perfection and showcases all of Holland, in its spirit, culture and heritage. The workmanship in this mini-wonderland, dubbed as the Dutch prototype of Disneyland, is to be seen to be believed.

Madurodam is named after George Maduro, a law student from Curaco who fought the Nazi occupation forces as a member of the Dutch resistance. He died on February 9, 1945, in the Dachau Concentration Camp during Second World War. In commemoration, his parents donated money for the Madurodam project. Madurodam is not a dam. Rather it is a unique combination of several things — a war memorial, a charity foundation and an amusement park spread over 18,000 square metres. It is like a massive colourful exhibition that displays to every visitor or tourist, Holland in a nutshell.

This “truly smallest town” of Netherlands opened in 1952 and has been attracting millions of visitors each year offering a bird’s eye view of the entire country on a scale 1:25.

Canals and walkways over famous bridges, gabled houses and typical Dutch buildings, apartments and farmsteads, castles and windmills, beach and zoo, bulb fields and football stadium, working harbour, airport and railway station, cheese and flower market, this miniature city displays it all in wood, glass, plastic, brass and synthetic.

The amazing detail of every building, the moving walkways with mini people going in and out of a church or the moving trucks and aeroplanes at Amsterdam’s Schipol airport, the raising bridges, boats and ferries, strike you at the first sight.

In this smallest city also live, work and relax 66,000 Madurodamers, who have at their disposal 4,542 cars and lorries, eight motorways, 58 ships, 27 bridges, five train stations, 10 museums, four churches, three theatres, and one post office, school, university and a hotel.

It is not only a masterpiece of miniature architecture, care has been taken at Madurodam to grow even mini trees all around the place while merry tunes of street organs add to the atmosphere of the city.

In fact, the place boasts of the world’s largest miniature railway. Each of the 12 different types of trains cover 16,000 kilometres per year. All trains are hand-made and are replicas of Dutch trains. Every six to ten years part of the track is renovated, just as it is in the real world. Accidents are rare because Automatic Train Protection system is used. The Nederlands Spoorwegen, Dutch Rail, uses the same method.

Madurodam is open all year round but it is most crowded in summer, with bus loads of tourists. But actually outside summertime, the city looks magnificent with 50,000 miniature bulbs illuminating the place. But you miss this spectacular sight during summer as it doesn’t get dark until very late due to high latitude. Winter months also add to the charm especially if snow covers the streets and roofs.

But constructing and maintaining an artificial mini-city out in the open is not an easy task. A 35-member team is on a full time job for its care, repair and maintenance. Every year, one or two new buildings are added and at times some older ones removed.

Smaller buildings take about three months to complete, but larger and more complicated buildings such as the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam or the St. John’s Basilica Church in Hertogenbosch took as long as three to four years as they were replicated with every detail in place. The real church too apparently took 200 years to be built. If you have been to any Dutch city before, you will recognise all its landmarks here. For instance, the Dam Square and the Royal Palace, the Anne Frank House and the Mint Tower.

It is not only the capital city that you get to see here in full glory. The rest of the country too is here and marks the beginning of a unique exploration of the Dutchland, all for 13.75 Euros (9.75 Euros for children below 12 years).

Next time you happen to be in The Hague, head for the Madurodam for a king size experience!

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