If you are a model railroad enthusiast, Miniatur Wunderland (German for “miniature wonderland”) will be your Eden! Located in Hamburg, Germany, Miniatur Wunderland is the brainchild of twins, Gerrit and Frederik Braun and the world’s largest model railroad, with over 39,000 feet of tracks occupying over 12,000 square feet! The brothers set about in building the massive model railway system in 2000 and in August of 2001, they opened three completed sections to the public. The original sections consisted of Harz/ Central Germany, Knuffingen (a fake city) and Austria. Today, this miniature wonderland which is open 365 days a year has become one of the biggest tourist highlights in northern Germany.
In November of 2002, the brothers added Hamburg followed by the U.S. in December of 2003. From 2005-2011 the exhibit grew to include Scandinavia, Switzerland and the Knuffingen Airport (modeled after Hamburg International Airport). There are currently plans to add Italy in 2015, followed by France in 2017 and England in 2019. In addition to offering different landscapes which correspond to various countries, the exhibit includes 890 trains consisting of up of over 11,000 carriages, 300,000 lights, 3,500 buildings & bridges, 215,000 trees, and 200,000 human figurines. Further the brothers have incorporated lighting which simulates dawn, daylight, sunset, and allows the visitors to view the entire display in a nighttime setting. All parts are built to a scale of 1:87 and much of the technology is custom-created as many of the stock components were not designed for continuous operation.
Each of the cities have their own attractions constructed in meticulous detail. Knuffingen, for instance, has firemen and policemen with working engines and sirens. The U.S. consists of a tiny Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, Yosemite Park and Cape Canaveral. Scandinavia features the northern Baltic Sea which uses 33,000 liters of running water with low and high tide simulated every 30 minutes. Switzerland has a chocolate plant and an open-air concert with 20,000 concert-goers.
The attraction has long waiting queues on Saturdays, Sundays, and during school holidays so plan to arrive early in the morning during those times. Only a limited number of visitors are granted access simultaneously to the exhibit in order to allow each guest an opportunity to enjoy exploring the different landscapes, so keep that in mind also.
Address: Miniatur Wunderland Modelleisenbahn Hamburg, Kehrwieder 4, 20457 Hamburg
Web page: http://www.miniatur-wunderland.com/
Hours: Daily from 9:30 am – 6 pm / Tuesdays from 9:30 am – 9 pm /
Saturdays from 8 am – 9 pm /Sundays and on public holidays from 8:30 am – 8 pm