Madurodam

Madurodam in The Hague (Den Haag) is a theme-park for all ages. Madurodam features a range of 1:25 scale model replicas of famous Dutch landmarks and historical cities, which are not only a way for the tourist to get a quick overview of the country, but also of interest to locals.. The Dutch expression feest van de herkenning, roughly translates as the  joy of recognition; for example when you view exceptionally well-done replicas of cities and sites you have visited or experienced in real life.

THE HAGUE – The above photo is us in front of a replica of the Peace Palace, which houses the UN’s International Court of Justice (ICJ), along with the Permanent Court of Arbitration. (And below is a photo we took in front of the actual location about a month ago.)

Above and below are replicas of the country’s government offices, the Binnenhoff.

Following is a miniature of the Huis ten Bosch Palace, residence of King King Willem-Alexander, Queen Máxima and their three daughters, located in the Haagse Bos forest.

AMSTERDAM – And a replica of the famous Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, which houses paintings by Rembrandt, Vermeer and other Dutch masters.

GOUDA – Amongst the cultural highlights portrayed is the historic old City Hall in Gouda. Each of the exhibits includes the appropriate “residents”, whose attire not only fits that given environment but also changes with the seasons! In winter they wear jackets and warm clothes and in the summer they wear T-shirts. Plus these “residents” of Madurodam have become more and more multicultural as the demographic make-up of the country changes.

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Madurodam strives to show a realistic view of much of the entirety of The Netherlands in a scaled-down environment.  It is more than just a miniature park of static replicas though; actually Madurodam is a tiny city in motion, with trains and cars that run along the tracks and roads, and boats and ships in its waterways. As it’s advertised, here you can see the whole of the Netherlands in an hour or two!

Above is the replica of The Dom Tower in UTRECHT, which as it so happens, my wife climbed to the top of earlier this week on an office-bonding-outing with her work colleagues.

Above is the world famous university in LEIDEN, founded in 1575 by William of Orange.

The Helpoort (the miniature shown above) in MAASTRICHT is a former city gate which dates from the second quarter of the 13th century, making it the oldest existing city gate in the Netherlands.

Fast forward to the present, above is a replica of a techno concert by one of Holland’s well-known DJ’s, who has a worldwide following.

Holland is of course famous for its flowers which it exports worldwide, so above and below are some miniatures of flower farms.

ROTTERDAM – Also represented are replicas of more modern buildings in Rotterdam, large portions of which had to be completely rebuilt from scratch after being bombed during WWII. There’s also a replica of one of the world’s largest container ports in Rotterdam.

The Water System of The Netherlands

As a child, most everyone heard the legend of the boy who stuck his finger in the dike!

While the story of the finger-in-a-dike methodology is only just that, a story, it’s an understatement that dikes and water do play a major part in the Netherlands. But before continuing further on the subject of dikes, let’s start on another topic also widely associated with Holland ….windmills.

Windmills were originally developed so as to be able to pump excess water from the fields to the canals, where it would then make its way to the sea. Since it was difficult to grow crops on such fields, instead cows were grazed, milk produced, and cheeses made.

Nowadays, such pumping is handled by much more powerful pumping stations, such as the miniature shown above, which allowed The Netherlands to become an agricultural powerhouse; thanks in part to about 1600 pumping stations nationwide that contribute to making this whole water system work.

Along these lines, this Madurodam model above offers a simple illustration as to how dikes work. It may at first be baffling to a newcomer to Holland, who observes the water flowing by several meters ABOVE neighborhoods of houses adjacent to the canal!

The people of The Netherlands and their canals have worked hand-in-hand for centuries. Above is a replica of a “floating auction” (now a museum), which boats would enter laden with vegetables and other agricultural products and offer these to the buyers on each side. Nowadays, in addition to canals shipping and transportation are absorbed by a series of highways blended with the canals. Below is an example of hoist-able bridges found throughout every community in the country. In the first Madurodam automated-miniature, the bridge is lifted, allowing boats to pass through the canal.

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And below, the same bridge now lowered, allowing vehicles to pass over the roadway.

Another element of the conquering of water by the Netherlands is the Delta Works, as illustrated by this automated Madurodam replica. We visited the actual Delta Works last year. Overall, quite a spectacular engineering feat!

And finally, not least of all, the proceeds from your tickets to see Madurodam will help others: Madurodam is dedicated to the memory of George Maduro, a WWII war hero. After World War II, the parents of George Maduro donated the initial capital necessary to build Madurodam, this city of miniatures. They meant for Madurodam to serve as a type of memorial in honor of George, their only son, who died in a concentration camp.  The Madurodam website specifies that the entirety of net proceeds from the park are donated to various charities throughout the Netherlands.