Mini-Europe in Brussels, Belgium is the perfect cheat’s tour of the greatest buildings on the European continent. And a very bizarre theme park.
The Parthenon... but not in Athens?
So, at the end of an exhausting trek through the entire continent, comes that great symbol of civilisation: The Parthenon. Perched on top of the Acropolis, its impact is somewhat dulled by the giant water slide in the background, gleeful child screaming down it.
Mercifully, this is not a case of a near-sacred site being desecrated by thoughtless development; the average toddler could probably trample this version of the Greek masterpiece into the ground given a free rein.
Houses of Parliament, Leaning Tower of Pisa and Brandenburg Gate
That is because, although frighteningly detailed, it’s a bit smaller than the real deal - one 25th of the size, to be precise – and it is in good company.
Close by are the diminutive Houses of Parliament, the fun-sized Leaning Tower of Pisa and the pocket Brandenburg Gate. In fact, most of Europe’s iconic buildings can be reached within a short stroll.
This, you may correctly surmise, is one of those fabulous vanity projects akin to the owner of an English stately home building an ornate tower in his garden largely because he can.
It’s just that in this case, the self-indulgent mad old fool is the European Union.
Mini-Europe in Brussels, Belgium is a bizarre combination of art showcase, theme park and propaganda stunt.
Europe at waist-height
Europe is sprawled before you, largely at waist height. That some of it is not is an astonishing indication of how incredibly large some of the continent’s oldest, largest buildings are.
For a rough approximation of scale, bear in mind that the average suburban semi would probably come to just below the knee of a medium height adult male if built to these proportions.
In Mini-Europe, that standard man will reach the first floor of the Eiffel Tower if stood on tiptoe and perched on the hill next to it. The miniature model is still 13 metres high.
Expansion of the European Union
As you wander round, the buildings are arranged by country, an arrangement that has clearly not been thought through properly. The expansion of the European Union has caused all sorts of problems here, as suddenly another ten countries have had to be squeezed in to a park that was already as good as full.
So, whilst the likes of Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Spain receive wee approximations of just about every building in the land, others have a token building each and are crammed into a tiny space.
The Czech Republic and Slovakia have been thoughtfully re-united again, whilst Hungary and Slovenia clearly haven’t got any tourist attractions worth recreating. They have to make do with a signpost in a bush.
Cost of models
Then there’s the issue of splashing out for yet more models. They don’t come cheap, that’s for sure, and given the level of detail, that comes as no great surprise.
According to the park guide, each model cost an average of EUR75,000 to make, using advanced moulding techniques. Workshops from across the Union were called in to shape the tiny wall decorations and statue bumps required, and it didn’t get done quickly.
Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela
The cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, for example, took 24,000 man hours to complete. The real thing probably didn’t take that long.
Being terribly official, there is a certain pomp to the place. By every country’s models, there is a big button to press, which is very satisfying until you get utterly sick of hearing national anthems.
When 25 of them are piping away at a time, the novelty value quickly fades, but it can’t detract from the impressiveness of the work that has gone on here. For example, with Dover, you don’t just get the castle, but the white cliffs and the row of terraced houses at the bottom.
Getting to Mini-Europe in Brussels, Belgium
Nearest international airport: Brussels
Using public transport: If coming to Brussels by train, get off at Brussels Central, then take the 1A Metro service and disembark at Heysel.
More information: Mini-Europe
- Padlocked bridges in Keila-Joa, Estonia
- Saddle Ranch in Los Angeles, California
- Elvis Bar at Glasgow Prestwick Airport, Scotland
- Hard Day’s Night Hotel review – Beatles themed hot...
- Depeche Mode Theme Bar in Tallinn, Estonia
- Love spoons in Llangollen, Wales
- Hounen Matsuri Penis Festival in Komaki, Japan
- Mulhouse’s Wallpaper Museum - Musée de Papier Pein...
- Europe in a day – Mini-Europe in Brussels, Belgium...
- Museum of Contraception and Abortion in Vienna, Au...
- The abras of Dubai Creek, United Arab Emirates
- Woodlyn Park in Waitomo, New Zealand - Stay in a 1...
- Climbing trees in Western Australia's South West
- Globe Museum in Vienna, Austria
- World’s oldest show cave - Postojna, Slovenia
- Gibraltar's World War II tunnels - the secret city...
- Snake charmers at Djemaa el-Fna in Marrakech, Moro...
- The Plymouth- Banjul Challenge – from England to t...
- World's biggest wine collection
- The Giant’s Causeway in County Antrim, Northern Ir...
- Prypyat: The Chernobyl ghost town, Ukraine
- The World’s Scariest Beach – Sint Maarten, Caribbe...
- Walk around the Monaco Grand Prix Circuit
- Tokyo's giant tapeworm - Meguro Parasitological Mu...
- The Pub With No Beer in Taylor’s Arm, New South Wa...
- Galleries of Justice in Nottingham, England
- Train journey from Bucharest, Romania to Chisinau,...
- Peak District Cave Boat - Speedwell Cavern in Cast...
- World’s biggest ice cave – Eisriesenwelt near Salz...
- Oresund Bridge between Sweden and Denmark
- Tazmazia near Sheffield, Tasmania, Australia
- World's oldest golf course – Musselburgh Links nea...
- Saga Museum in Reykjavik, Iceland - bloodthirsty V...
- Icelandic Phallological Museum in Husavik
- The Barbary Apes of Gibraltar
- Loughborough, England – the world’s oldest package...
- World's smallest book in Kiev's Micro Miniatures M...
- St Patrick’s Grave in Downpatrick, Northern Irelan...
- Mendel Museum in Brno, Czech Republic
- Hotel Fox in Copenhagen, Denmark - design hotel
- Marzipan Museum in Keszthely, Hungary
- Sweden's Ice Hotel in Jukkasjarvi near Kiruna
- Boomerang-throwing in Charleville-Mézières, France...
- Leksakland Toy Museum in Malmo, Sweden
- Ars Electronica Centre in Linz, Austria
- Kiev Caves Monastery, Ukraine and its mummified mo...
- Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane, Queensland,...
- Pelote in St Jean de la Luz, Basque France
- Palace of the Parliament, Bucharest, Romania
- Rungnado May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea...
- Palace of Versailles near Paris, France
- Neutrality Arch, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
- Mafra National Palace in Portugal
- Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro, Côt...
- Wycliffe Well UFO Hotspot in Northern Territory, A...
- The Devil’s Marbles in Central Australia – the egg...
- Eat rotten shark (hakarl) in Reykjavik, Iceland
- Fountain of Youth in St Augustine, Florida
- Transdniestr in Moldova – breakaway Soviet state
- The UN Green Line in Nicosia, Cyprus
- ▼ August (60)