Miniatur Wunderland is the largest model railway in the world! But it’s more than ‘just’ a model railway. It’s a scaled-down version of the world. It is located in Hamburg’s Speicherstadt, not far from the Elbphilharmonie and was founded in 2001 by twin brothers Frederik and Gerrit Braun.
Here are some statistics: there are 1040 locomotives, 280 moving cars, 390,000 lights, 263,000 miniature figures and 15,400 metres of track. The layout has an area of more than 1,499 square metres and is controlled by 50 computers.
The model world is populated by thousands of miniature figures. They are called ‘Preiserlein’ after the company that makes them, Paul M. Preiser GmbH. There are different areas: Hamburg, Scandinavia, America, Austria, Switzerland, Central Germany, Italy, Venice and the airport.
Every 15 minutes it goes dark and thousands of LEDs are switched on. The effect is beautiful. There’s no Berlin but Hamburg is proudly represented. The Elbe, the Landungsbrücken, the Hochbahn, the S-Bahn,the Hauptbahnhof, the TV tower and the Elbphilharmonie are all therre. We see the port, the ships and the Köhlbrand bridge by daylight and at night.
All models are designed to be as lifelike as possible. As in the real Sweden, the trains run on the left. In America we start in Key West and right next to it is Las Vegas. At dusk, the city looks fantastic We continue to the Grand Canyon, but there is no Chicago or New York.
The small trains come from all directions. We don’t know where they are coming from or where they are going. A few metres further and we’re in hilly Mitteldeutschland. The ICE crosses a modern railway bridge. At night, a UFO flies down from the sky. An alien hunter is waiting. Famous conspiracy theories are represented humorously. In an underground studio, for example, the moon landings are filmed.
The airport is probably the smallest commercial airport in the world. More than 40 miniature planes take off and land just like real planes. I don’t know exactly how it works. Every now and then a Star Wars spaceship or a big bee flies along the runway. The model of Venice was completed in 2018. There is also Rome, Vatican City and other regions in Italy here.
The layout is constantly being expanded. Coming soon is Provence and a working Monaco Grand Prix. Britain was due to arrive in 2020, but it seems to have gone off the radar. You can look at the workshops and take a behind-the-scenes tour.
The attraction is open 365 days a year. Millions of people have visited Miniatur Wunderland. The model world so detailed, so impressive and so realistic that you look at the real world with completely new eyes. At Miniatur Wunderland, the keyword is wonder. Here you can really learn to… bewundern – to look in wonder at our world. Soon the real world starts to look like a model, as here, the Alexanderplatz seen from the Berlin TV Tower.
Miniatur Wunderland is an expression of the European idea as not only Germany is presented, but also several European countries as well as regions on other continents.
Soon visitors will be able to walk on a new footbridge over the water into the neighbouring warehouse to see South America. The future at Miniatur Wunderland looks exciting.
More info about the video and this article
This is a new version of an older video, now in German with English subtitles.
I’m attracted to Miniatur Wunderland because I love all types of models and I love trains and all forms of transport. It fits into the AVZINE channel’s theme of cities and journeys, as a number of cities are represented in miniature size – Hamburg, Rome, Venice, Las Vegas and others, but not Berlin, New York or Chicago.
It’s also about journeys as the trains run on thousands of journeys each day. There are also ships, planes, buses, cars, vans, a UFO and a strange bee-like creature.
The music is by the amazing Bad Snacks – the Los Angeles based musician, a genius with synthesizers and the violin, which she has played since she was a child. Thanks to her as always for making her music available via the YouTube Audio Library.
There is a students’ PDF for this video with script, side by side translation and questions. It’s available to my students, or just contact me and I’ll send you a copy.