Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Miniatur Wunderland Hamburg - a place that may infuse childhood nostalgia

Gone are the days when children played with Meccano - a set of metal strips of many shapes and sizes, screws and wheels to make many objects  either from drawings given with the Meccano set or one could make anything out of the available material as per one's aesthetic and innovative mind. I too as a child made things from our Meccano set - but that was long ago.

In fact Meccano helped children make things and exercise their minds - something that has now been replaced with readymade apps, allowing children no options at all to test their mental faculties and innovate things. One of my brothers learnt a lot from Meccano and became a model maker. From small models he grew up to make industrial models of scaled down sizes as we often see in big projects' sale rooms where customers are briefed on life size model of a factory or a building.

But there are people who make models for fun - for them miniaturized scaled down models is their passion and hobby. And those who still love, besides their children,  to see miniature trains running on plastic tracks, Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg Germany is a place never to be missed. Although called Miniatur Wunderland, it actually is a Model Land where countless trains, buses, cars and aeroplanes move and fly amid skyscrapers and near to life city life.

The Miniatur Wunderland is enormous as it includes 930 trains made up of over 14,450 carriages, 335,000 lights, 228,000 trees, and 215,000 human figurines. Besides there are a large number of airplanes from Cessna to Airbus 380 and the entire airport depiction from passengers to maintenance buildings and runways.

When I went to Germany last year, and visited Hamburg, I had all the intentions to visit the Miniatur Wunderland - but despite my hectic and best efforts, I could not find a parking place for the car as all roadside parkings and parking lots were full to capacity at around 11 AM. We kept making rounds around Miniatur Wunderland in the hope of someone pulling out and we parking in, but were not lucky. And I and my family left the city with a very heavy heart.

But my son who is in Germany studying, made it to Miniatur Wunderland last week and has sent me a large number of photos which I am sharing through this post for those who love models and have a hobby of model making.

The Wunderland is the brainchild of Frederik Braun - who loved model trains since his childhood. Together with his brother Gerrit, he has established this huge entertainment Wunderland. Established since 2001, the Wunderland has grown by investing 500,000 working hours and nearly 9 million Euros.

The Wunderland is today home to the largest model railway in the world, and one of the most successful permanent exhibitions in Northern Germany. There are more than 100 trains seen running on the numerous tracks across the model city. The railway is located in the historic Speicherstadt. 

As per information available, by 2020, this model railroad will feature 1900 signals, 4000 switches, 6000 buildings and bridges, and over 500,000 lights. Presently only seven sections are on display.

No - this is not all!!

Parking garage at Knuffingen Airport

For those who love airplanes, there are plenty of these here - parked in different ways and even seen taking off from the runway. Here the Knuffingen Airport is depicted with all its ground terminals, passenger areas, aircraft parking and taking offs. Spread over 150 square meters in floor space, the model airport cost $5 million to build in incredible six years to replicate the Hamburg Airport, which is one of the major attraction for the model lovers. It is the largest miniature airport model in the world made on a 1:87 scale.

 Passenger aircraft scattered across the apron at Knuffingen Airport 
Night lights at Knuffingen Airport 


It may be added for information that Miniatur Wunderland has featured on the British Television Series James May's Toy Stories twice, with Sebastian and Gerrit helping BBC Top Gear presenter James May building an OO-scale Hornby model railway along the Tarka Trail abandoned railway between Barnstaple and Bideford (Wikipedia)

Besides Germany, there are exclusive sections that depict Austria, America, Scandinavia, Switzerland. Italy is under construction while France, England and Africa may come up between 2017-2020.

At places like Miniatur Wunderland, no one can resist a selfie - not even my son!!


A football stadium based on Volksparkstadion

The Volksparkstadion stadium located in Bahrenfeld, Hamburg, Germany. It is the home ground of German Bundesliga club Hamburger SV and was one of the 12 stadia used in the 2006 Football World Cup.

The American section was put on display in 2003, mainly focusing on Las Vegas - the city of lights in the USA. As per an estimate more than 1/10 of all its 300,000 lights are installed in this small Sin City. There are also more natural landscapes to take in, like the Florida Keys and Yosemite National Park, the Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore.

For those who may need further information, may contact the following address/telephones:
Address: Kehrwieder 2-4/Block D, 20457 Hamburg, Germany
Hours: Open today · 9:30 am – 6:00 pm
Phone: +49 40 3006800

Word of caution: In order to avoid long waiting times, it is recommended booking tickets in advance - otherwise it may take upto 45-60 minutes to purchase tickets at the museum. If advance booking is not done, try visiting on a quiet day - but when is it?

All Photos Credits:
Wahaab Jalal Bhatti: Wahaab JB is studying in the Kiel University of Applied Sciences and doing his Masters in IT. He has a flare for gadgets and has been fascinated with model cars 'Dinkys' since his childhood - which why he was attracted to the place that infused in him his childhood nostalgia once more. As of now he has his sights set on software development and engineering and has already developed a few prototypes apps which he may someday field into Android world. He has taken these photos with his One+1 smartphone.

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