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Travel topics > Cultural attractions > Miniatures, dioramas and scale models

Miniatures, dioramas and scale models

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Miniatures, dioramas and scale models are scaled (or not so scaled) representations of other objects, which attract traveller interest. Created by skilled model-makers, the objects modelled, the scales used, and the level of detail can be incredible.

Miniature parks[edit]


The Netherlands[edit]

  • 1 Madurodam, George Maduroplein 1 (tram 9 or 22 (toward Scheveningen Noorderstrand), +31 70 416 2400. 9AM-6PM daily. This miniature city contains a selection of Dutch architecture, ranging from Amsterdam's canals and church spires from Utrecht and Den Bosch, to modern architecture from Rotterdam and the enormous Delta works that protect the country from the sea. Madurodam also has an airport, a seaport, beaches, and little cars, trams and trains running through the entire town. Madurodam is open year round. €14.50 for adults, €10.50 for children.


France Miniature, Élancourt.


  • 2 Swissminiatur. Switzerland in miniature as a theme park in Melide near Lugano.


  • Miniaturk, along the Golden Horn, Istanbul, features scale models of many landmarks, modern and ancient, some of which are no longer standing, in Turkey and the former Ottoman lands.

Model railways[edit]

Model railway (or railroads) initially developed at the end of the 19th century, and have developed from comparatively large models, into rail-roads of diverse scale, modelled gauges and levels of detail.

Don't assume that all model rail-roads are at small scales inside a building, there being some 'garden railways' that can be on nominal scales as big as 1:12 scale.

United Kingdom[edit]


As well as the 'fixed' attractions above, many model railway clubs in the UK hold (annual) public shows, the traveller is advised to check local press in a destination, Some of these shows may focus on modelling specific themes, railways or periods, whereas others are more general. Layouts at such events can vary from tiny 'micro' layouts, through to complex multi-operator affairs.


United States[edit]

Miniature railways and "Grand Scale" railroads[edit]

(See also Attraction railways)

Sitting somewhere between model railways of various scales, and full scale (albiet narrow gauge) railways, are Grand Scale railroads (or Miniature Railways), which although not necessarily for the purpose of practical transportation, are a fascinating destination for the rail or attraction enthusiast. At these larger track gauges and modelling scales, it's even possible for an operator to ride with their 'model' trains. For many lines with a track gauges above 7¼" (184mm), there can be a regular passenger service. Numerous private "backyard railroads" have also existed, but other than a few rare open days these are not generally open to tourists.

United Kingdom[edit]


  • North Bay Railway, Scarborough. This larger (20in) gauge miniature railway is a worthwhile excursion even if you don't plan on visiting Scarborough's other attractions.
  • Bressingham Steam Experience, Bressingham, Norfolk, This attraction constructed aside the grounds of a now closed plant nursery, boasts 2 Grand scale lines,(as well as narrow guage line and, a short length of standard gauge track used for demonstration purposes.),
  • Eastbourne Minature Steam Railway, Eastbourne.
  • Beer Heights Light Railway, Beer, Devon, Part of the Pecorama attraction.


  • Kerr's Miniature Railway, West Links Park, Arbroath.


  • Rhyl Minature Railway, Marine Parade, Rhyl.

Model Engineering Club Circuits[edit]

  • Ridgeway Park, Chingford, Model Engineering Club circuit of 7.25"/5"/3" gauge, and a Gauge One layout. Operates seasonally in summer, Sunday afternoons.
  • Harlington Locomotive Society, Club circuit of 5"/3" gauge. Seasonal, Fortnightly weekends in Summer.
  • HWSME, Roxbourne Park Railway, Ruislip, Middlesex. Club circuit with 7.25"/5"/3" gauge represented, Seasonal operation, Sunday afternoons.
  • Frimley Lodge Minature Railway, Frimley Lodge Park, Frimley Green, Surrey. 7.25". Operates First Sunday of the Month - March 5th-Nov 5 (1100-1600).

United States[edit]

  • Train Mountain Railroad, Chiloquin, Oregon
  • Redwood Valley Railway, Tilden Regional Park near Berkeley, California.
  • Michigan AuSable Valley Railroad, Fairview, Michigan.
  • Waterman and Western Railroad, Waterman, Illinois.

Central and Eastern Europe[edit]

Park railway (former "pioneer" railway) in Leipzig

"Pioneer" or "children's railways" were created in several countries of the former Soviet-led Eastern Bloc during the mid-20th century. At that time, they were run by the communist youth organisation ("pioneers") of the respective countries. After the end of the communist rule, some of them have been continued by public entreprises or private associations. They are not only children's attractions, but children also participate in their operation, acting as ticket vendors, conductors, signallers and attendants (only the engine drivers need to be adults). While most of the pioneer railways in former East Germany and Poland (e. g. Berlin, Dresden, Poznan) are on a miniature scale (most commonly with a 15-inch or 600-mm gauge), those in Hungary, Slovakia and the former Soviet Union are actually full-scaled narrow-gauge railways. See the list of "Pioneer" railways in Eastern Europe.

Apart from that concept, ridable miniature railways also exist in other Central European countries:


United States[edit]

United Kingdom[edit]

  • Pendon Museum, Pendon Museum, Long Wittenham, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX14 4QD, +44 1865 408143. 1100-1800. Pendon consists of 2 supererbly detailed model diorama begun in the 1920s which aim to recreate in miniature a representation of English country life of the period, as well as a portion of the Great Western Railway. £7.50 Adult.

Miniature theatres[edit]

  • Pollock's Toy Museum, London, England.
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