Just next door to the Atomium is a fun little amusement park called Mini Europe. My husband and I were a little “iffy” about taking it in, but the fact that you can purchase a combination ticket that covers both the Atomium and Mini Europe helped to make up our minds.
It turns out, Mini Europe isn’t just a kid-friendly attraction. Anyone of any age can find something to like about this miniature homage to some of Europe’s best-known landmarks. Even the local ducks seemed impressed by this replica of Stockholm’s City Hall:
The Mini Europe project began in 1987 with a group of art historians who selected over one hundred European buildings to recreate. It was inaugurated by Prince Philip of Belgium in 1989. The number of buildings represented has grown to over 350, covering 80 European cities, and the number grows a little each year.
The buildings are at 1/25 scale to the originals and follow a meticulous reproduction process to ensure as much detailed accuracy as possible. For example, it took 24,000 man hours to complete the Cathedral of Saint Jacques de Compostela miniature alone! As you can imagine, this level of craftsmanship, not to mention ongoing maintenance, costs money. Thus, many of the miniatures have been financed by European countries or regions.
I particularly liked the miniatures set in a water feature, such as the Castle of Hoensbroek in the Netherlands:
This is Olavinlinna Castle from Finland. The original castle was built in 1475.
Here is a replica of the Exchange building in Copenhagen, built in the 17th Century in the Renaissance style.
The park isn’t all just about static replicas either. There are several electrically powered components that bring this little world alive. For example, Mount Vesuvius actually erupts, windmills spin, church bells chime, trains chug along their tracks, and so on. You can even pretend to be a Roman Gladiator or Buckingham Palace guard if you feel like getting in on the “action”.
But my particular favourite miniature was this perfectly crafted, cheeky little mini-advertisement for themselves!