“Let’s go Keith!”, my Mum said sternly as she pulled on my shoulder.
“Wait! There’s a plane approaching! There! Can you see its lights?”, I retorted, determined to see the plane land. “Just a few more minutes!”, I pleaded.
My Mum sighed. “Ok, then. One more. And after it lands, we’re going home!”
This happened every time we went to the airport to send my Dad off or pick him up. I was about seven-years-old and my fascination for airplanes was immense. As soon as we arrived at the airport, I would make a beeline for the observation deck and wouldn’t budge until my Mum came to get me.
I’d not thought of those memories for a long time until my recent visit to the Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg, Germany. The Miniatur Wunderland miniature museum boasts the largest model railway and model airport in the world. As soon as I entered, I was greeted by a variety of landscapes, from Hamburg city and port to snow-covered mountains and green rolling hills dotted with quaint villages and towns… all in miniature size!
Miniatur Wunderland – a wondrous miniature museum
Trains whizzed past the towns, over bridges and through mountain tunnels. It was an absolutely incredible sight. The lights in the exhibition space changed gradually – from daytime to the reddish hues of sunset to the darkness of night – whilst the lights in the cities and towns sprang to life.
I’d heard about the model airport so that was my first priority and I found it soon enough. Located in a separate hall, the airport was massive! Airlines from around the world landed at and took off from the single runway or taxied to/from the large terminal building.
My plane-spotting childhood memories flooded my mind in an instant and I couldn’t help but shed a tear – those were some of the best memories I had with my Mum and Dad; all of us on the observation deck, sharing an ice-cream and watching the planes. I stood there for at least 30 minutes watching the model planes land and take-off. I’d never seen a model airport look this realistic in my life!
Miniatur Wonderland is truly a wondrous place. Look closely and you’ll be amazed by the attention to detail. My favourite is the outdoor concert, with thousands of tiny figurines. Zoom in and you’ll see all sorts of hilarious theatrics in the crowd and backstage. I could spend hours here just looking at the details and imagining the stories being told through each figurine or scene.
Another section that is absolutely worthwhile is the series of scenes depicting the history of Berlin from the end of World War II to the fall of the Berlin Wall. The detail and emotion captured in these scenes are simply astonishing.
The trains, planes, cars, ships, trams and even carts are in constant motion – there must be thousands of moving components in Miniatur Wunderland – and are monitored from a Control Centre. It’s an impressive sight to see the staff at work!
If you’re visiting Hamburg, don’t miss the Miniatur Wunderland. This miniature museum certainly brought back so many fond childhood memories for me but above all, it truly is a remarkable place!