Miniatur Wunderland, Hamburg

14 February 2014

As a birthday present to Stephen, we travelled to Hamburg for the day, flying from Gatwick and getting a couple of trains from Hamburg airport to the historic waterfront warehouse district, from where it was a short walk to Miniatur Wunderland, the world's largest model railway. So far over 500,000 working hours have been spent creating the project, with many more years of expansion still planned. It is Hamburg's biggest tourist attraction, and still sits almost anonymous in part of an old warehouse. 1.2 million people visited in 2013, and they expect their 12-millionth visitor in 2014, hoping to add to their tally of international visitors: currently someone has visited from all but six of the countries and territories of the world.


Our first view of the model exhibition is of the town of Bichur in Switzerland. This section opened in 2007 - the whole exhibition is divided into countries and themes, in places based solidly on reality, and elsewhere being inspired by them. Italy is currently under construction, with France, England and Africa to follow.

The cable cars are moving as well as the trains and cranes

Roadworks on the motorway have led to a traffic jam at night

A huge open-air concert underneath a medieval fortress

Knights jousting

Daybreak hasn't relieved the traffic jam in the background, but the trains are still on the move

As we climb up to the next storey, we can see the impressive Landwasser Viadukt and the spirals that curve inside the mountain allowing the trains to gain or lose height

Our feet, with a train going past under the floor

A rack and pinion railway

The Swiss section spreads over two storeys on 250 square meters. Some four tonnes of plaster and 15 tonnes of steel were used to build this section. Here were are on the upper floor, looking down on the miniature landscape.

Swiss trains at night

Knuffingen Airport

Knuffingen Airport, based on Hamburg's airport, opened in 2011 after six years of construction, at a cost of 3.5 million euros. It really is impressive, seeing not only the aeroplanes taxiing, taking off and landing, but also the buses and other airport vehicles scurrying around the airport.

An Airberlin aeroplane taxies to the terminal building while road vehicles move about the airport - note the airbridge moving in at the end

One aeroplane lands while others queue to take off

A DHL aeroplane takes off


A Lufthansa jumbo lands


The airport at night


Another take-off

Even the car parks are full of detail



Below Neuschwanstein Castle is the impressive boat lift


The Austrian Alps is one of the oldest sections of the exhibition. Lots of interest, but I'm trying to cut down the photos to a manageable number...



The Knuffigen section is very varied, with a large city as well as lots of rural sections. One of the fascinations with the whole exhibit is the people - over 215,000 figures have been placed, and many of them are doing something amusing, different, interesting or captivating in some way

In among all the more modern electric trains, Knuffingen still has a big steam locomotive shed

An ICE train stops at Knuffingen

Castle L÷wenstein

What are those monks looking at?


Restaurant and Control Centre

We stopped for lunch in the restaurant, where the seating is designed to look like you are on board a train

Then had a little look at the control centre, where the staff keep an eye on the exhibit and its trains, road vehicles and aeroplanes.


Middle Germany

An ICE train speeds on its modern 12-metre viaduct across the older station below - more than 130 trains run around Middle Germany

Anyone for a game of crazy golf?

Or perhaps a wander in the sunflower maze?

Or a trip to the fairground?

Meanwhile the workers and machines are hard at work mining underground



America has so much variety of scenery to offer


The fire brigade is out in force in Hamburg to tackle a blaze at the water front. About 50,000 figures are placed in Hamburg, so it is a busy place

The main station at Hamburg is impressive


The Scandinavia section of the exhibit is the largest, opened in 2005.

A delightful beach scene backed by a busy railway

The water at the beach leads on to this scene, the start of the impressive water feature of Scandinavia, spanned by the Storebaelt bridge with a long train crossing it.

The 30,000 litres of water ebb and flow with a 4cm tidal range, and the fleet consists of 25 ships. Efforts to get the ships to navigate and dock on autopilot have proved to be very challenging, and at present they are steered manually.

At night a container ship turns as it nears the oil rig, while vehicles cross the bridge


Looking towards the sea lock

Further round in Scandinavia, it is winter

The Kiruna ore mining operation

The residents are being well entertained

Oh dear - be careful not to fall off the roof!

Pippi Longstocking - from the books by Astrid Lindgren.

And so concluded a wonderful visit to Miniatur Wonderland - a destination thoroughly to be recommended, and one I'm sure we will return to one day, when there will be new sections to see, and much more to see in the existing sections than we spotted today.



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Unless otherwise stated, all images copyright (c) Stephen and Lucy Dawson