As if Holland wasn’t small enough to travel around, if you are really pressed for time, you can visit the whole country all in one day by visiting Madurodam. Madurodam is a miniature “city” located just outside The Hague, Netherlands.
Madurodam is a scale model of the country, and all the attractions and geographical features that make Holland famous. You can see the canals of Amsterdam, the Red Light district, Rotterdam harbor, Maastricht, Utrecht, the dikes that made Holland famous, castles, government buildings, and windmills. Madurodam even has an airport, beaches, little cars, tin people, and trains running through it. In fact, there’s pretty much a scale version (built to a scale of 1:25) of anything of importance or shows the daily life of the country.
There is even a mayor. In 1952, the teenaged Princess Beatrix was appointed mayor of Madurodam. Today, the mayor is elected by a youth council consisting of 25 students from schools in the region.
This major Dutch tourist attraction (it sees millions of visitors per year) was first built in 1952. It was named after George Maduro, a Jewish law student who fought as a member of the Dutch resistance and died at Dachau concentration camp in 1945. His parents donated the money to start the Madurodam project and since then it has just grown.
Thirty-five people build and maintain the city. Every year one or two new buildings are added, while older ones get taken away.
I visited Madurodam with Guido from Happy Hotelier. I had heard about the city on a previous trip to the Netherlands, and Guido, who lives in The Hague, agreed to indulge my inner child and take me. (Knowing someone with a car is wonderful.) Arriving there, I expected this amazing Legoland version of the country and, though I didn’t find that, I thought the “town” was still pretty interesting to wander around. The detail on the buildings is exquisite, and they really put a lot of work into the smallest details. At night, 50,000 miniature light bulbs light up the city.
If you take photos at the right angles, the buildings can fill the frame enough to look like the real thing, and you can pretend you actually visited the place. Mostly, I liked watching the airplanes “take off” from the Schiphol Airport, though the décor inside is a bit dated from the ’70s. I just wanted to run on the tarmac and play with the planes like an eight-year-old boy.
Madurodam is open all year round. It is open from 9am to 9pm; tickets cost €12.50 for adults; children are €9, and adults aged 65 cost €11.50. You can get here by car or take the tram from The Hague Central Station. It’s tram 9 or bus 22 in the direction of Scheveningen.
I wouldn’t make the half-day journey from Amsterdam to see this site. It was interesting, but to eat up a whole day for this? I’m not sure it was that interesting. But if you are looking for something a bit more off-beat in a country where you end up seeing lots of canals, historic buildings, and art museums, make your way out here when you get to The Hague.