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marianne Madurodam - A travel report by Marianne
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Madurodam,  Netherlands - flag Netherlands -  Zuid-Holland
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marianne's travel reports

A Small World

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Take a tour through the Netherlands: Visit the bulb field, see a football match, board a plane or train, walk across famous bridges, see the docks, the ferry boats, a working harbour. In other words: Visit Madurodam.



Herengracht, Amsterdam
Herengracht, Amsterdam
Madurodam is Holland’s smallest city. 16.000 inhabitants live in houses, apartments or farmsteads.

They cover each year 14.000 km by car and 16.000 km by train. There are 4542 cars and lorries, and 8 motorways. The city boasts 10 museums, 5 train stations, 4 churches, 3 theatres, 27 bridges, 1 post-office, 58 ships, 3150 lamp posts, 30.000 bulbs, mainly tulips. There is one school, one university, and one hotel.

Town houses, flats, appartments, office buildings, castles, windmills, farmsteads, a beach and a zoo are places where the Madurodamers work, live and relax.

The tallest building is 25m high and houses the Rotterdam Insurance Company. The façade is entirely made of glass and a window cleaners’ nightmare.

Madurodam offers a variety of architectural styles, from the Gothic St. Jan Basilica to the modern bridge dwellings, houses that span a river, and everything in between.

The day I visited Madurodam, the city was preparing itself for the World Cup 2006. Lots of inhabitants had put out orange banners and flags. The weather was sunny and one family gathered together in front of a wide screen television put in their garden. They all wore orange clothes, the colour of the Dutch national team.

When I passed Madurodam Stadium, the match had not started yet. The players and the fans were singing the Dutch national anthem.

The city walk took me 60 – 90 minutes and was marked by white arrows on the path. This meant that it was impossible to loose my way. Besides it ensured me that I saw all the sights and all the buildings.

Favourite spots:
Rijksmuseum,  Amsterdam
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Madurodam is a miniature city. All buildings are built to scale 1:25. Construction of the buildings and maintaining the city is a full time job for 35 people.

Every year one or two new buildings are added. Older ones may be taken away. First detailed photos are taken of the original building. Then the construction begins in Madurodam’s own workshop.

Originally all buildings were constructed of wood, but these days synthectic materials are used as they are weather-proof. Smaller building take about three months to complete, but larger, more complicated buildings can take as long as three to four years.

One of these complicated building is het Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Accurately rebuilt, every detail can be seen, including some of the exposition rooms that can be viewed through the roof windows. They are complete with exhibits and visitors.

What's really great:
Madurodamers watching a football match
Madurodamers watching a football match
Madurodam is both a war monument and a charity foundation. The city is named after Curaçao-born George Maduro who was killed in the second World War.

The project is a joint initiative of Mr and Mrs Maduro and Mrs Boon who supports the Dutch Student Sanatorium. Here students could recover from tuberculosis and at the same time continue their studies.

As this was very costly, funds were to be found. She took the English miniature village in Beaconsfield as an example, high revenues enabled the owner to make regular donations to London hospitals.

Mr and Mrs Maduro donated a handsome sum of money. Big companies were approached for financial support.

Madurodam opened in 1952 and the city has expanded ever since.

Sights:
Amsterdam canals
Amsterdam canals


There are many Amsterdam scenes: canals and canal houses, Dam Square and the Royal Palace, Anne Frank House, Skinny Bridge, Rijksmuseum, Mint Tower. If you have been to Amsterdam you will recognise them all.

But it is not only Amsterdam houses you will see, the rest of the Netherlands is also represented. A visit to Madurodam may be the beginning of an exploration of other Dutch cities.

Accommodations:
The residence of Queen Beatrix. Note the tiny trees
The residence of Queen Beatrix. Note the tiny trees
80% of the objects is financed by Madurodam itself, the remaining 20% are sponsored by industries or companies with an affinity to the object, e.g. several airlines have one of their airplanes stationed at Schipol Airport in Madurodam. Well-known Dutch retail chains have their shops in the shopping streets of the city. Multinationals have their headquarters in Madurodam.

Sponsored buildings and objects must be approved of, before planning permission is granted. Some of the criteria are:
* the building must be typically Dutch.
* a building site must be available.
* the building must be attractive for visitors.
If the commission approves, building can start.

When the contract has been signed by Madurodam and the sponsor, the building or object will remain in the city for five years.


Nightlife:
Houses of Parliament, The Hague
Houses of Parliament, The Hague
To my big surprise I discovered only one hotel: Hotel de Wereld. In the real world it is a 4* star hotel right in the centre of Wageningen, a city in the east of the Netherlands.

On May 5 in 1945 a Canadian general and a German Commander-in-Chief reached an agreement on the capitualtion of Germany. On the following day the capitulation document was signed in Hotel de Wereld.

Today the Dutch celebrate Liberation Day on 5 May, special ceremonies take place in Wageningen and in Hotel de Wereld.


Hangouts:
Lorry delivering wooden shoes
Lorry delivering wooden shoes
On the outskirts of Madurodam I passed the Klompenfabriek. A factory were wooden shoes are produced. They are made of willow or poplar wood and still worn by farmers.

Wooden shoes are mostly hand-made although a kind of copying machine is used to get two identical ones. After drying the young wood and sand-papering until they are as smooth as a baby’s skin they are handpainted. Yellow with a red pattern are the favourite colours.

A few facts: in 1960 there were some 1100 wooden shoe makers who made 3.8 million pairs. Today only 15 wooden shoe makers are left, producing 800.000 pairs.

The Madurodam wooden shoe business is still in full operation. A euro inserted in the slot machine starts the process. A loud grumble sounds from the building and seconds later a new pair of miniature shoes are spit out on to a slide and into a lorry, which starts moving and delivers the shoes right to where you are standing on the public path.

Restaurants:
Dam Square and Royal Palace, Amsterdam
Dam Square and Royal Palace, Amsterdam
Madurodam Rail is one of the big attraction in the city. Twelve different types of trains cover 4 kilometres. Each train covers 16.000 kilometres per year. All trains are hand-made and are replicas of Dutch trains. Every six to ten years part of the track must be renovated, just as it is in the real world.

Accidents are rare because Automatic Train Protection system is used. A train stops automatically when the next stretch has not been cleared. The Nederlands Spoorwegen, Dutch Rail, uses the same method.

The lift bridge, replica of the bridge near Dordrecht, with four rail tracks is raised about four times per hour so that big ships can pass. Trains have to wait as they do in the real world.

Other recommendations:
Dom Tower, Utrecht
Dom Tower, Utrecht
Madurodam is open all year round. It is most crowded in summer, with bus loads of tourists. In July and August it is open from 9 am to 22 pm. At sunset the city is magic, because 50.000 miniature light bulbs illuminate the city. Winter is also a good time to visit, especially if snow covers the streets and roofs.

Ticket price
adults: €12.50
children: €9
65+: €11,50

Price includes a route planner, a booklet with photos and a descriptions of the models, (available in 13 languages)

At the entrance there is a self-service restaurant with tables inside and outside.

Once you are in the city there are no benches to sit, however on the edges there are some. Wheelchairs are available free of charge. Phone this number: 070 - 416 24 00.

Right at the exit you will find a souvenirshop with typically Dutch products.

Madurodam
George Maduroplein 1
The Hague

From The Hague Central Station: bus 22 or tram 9
From The Hague Hollands Spoor Station: tram 9

Published on Monday June 5th, 2006


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Mon, Jun 19 2006 - 06:52 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

wonderful report and very well written

Sat, Jun 17 2006 - 10:52 PM rating by gloriajames

Loved the report! Will have to pay a visit some day soon!

Thu, Jun 08 2006 - 10:32 AM rating by magsalex

The usual high standard!

Mon, Jun 05 2006 - 05:24 PM rating by st.vincent

I wonder if this is the first miniature city to feature on GLOBO, it makes me want to visit the one in Beaconsfield again (I last went as a child).

Your photos are great and show how much attention has been paid to the detail of the models. I like the idea that the city reflects current affairs by decorating buildings for the World Cup.

Mon, Jun 05 2006 - 10:16 AM rating by frenchfrog

Marianne, this is really a fantastic report, next time I go to Holland I shall remember that! Especially the wooden shoe fabric sounds very nice! Madurodam sound very exciting!

Mon, Jun 05 2006 - 08:05 AM rating by horourke

This is an insight into another aspect of Netherlands which is new to me

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