If someone is a first-time tourist in the Netherlands or is looking for a fun family time, Madurodam in The Hague is a must-go place. The park is a miniature version of Holland’s finest both in history and in culture, featuring models that are 25 times smaller, and enlarged, 25 times bigger objects than those in real life. It is full of vegetation, with 60 cm tall trees and bushes all set up to make the park look like as if someone’s wandered off into Lilliput.
Madurodam features many outdoor activities that can be enjoyed all year as well as some indoor experiences. The restaurants and shops make it easier to spend a whole day there, and the Wadden Sea-themed playground makes it perfect place for children as well.
Started off as a war memorial, Madurodam was built in 1952 to commemorate George John Lionel Maduro, a Dutch war hero and resistance fighter who died in 1945 at the Dachau concentration camp. Ever since its opening, Madurodam always elects a president to govern over the Madurodammers, the little citizens of Madurodam. The very first president of the park was Princess Beatrix, and after her coronation in 1980 she became the patron of Madurodam.
As we set foot inside Madurodam, the first thing we notice is that how interactive everything is.
Visitors get a booklet with a map inside to help discover Holland’s highlights and heritage, and a scan card so they can have access to extra information about the displayed buildings, such as the building of the Dutch Parliament or the Royal Theatre “Carré”. The way the small buildings are spread throughout the park is convenient, the place is not too crowded, and the so-called XL objects and games are scattered between the famous buildings in a clever way. Another part of the interactive exhibition is the indoor activity, the Court of the Netherlands. In contrast with the description in the booklet though, when we visited this room, there was an interactive, sort of 4-D movie about the short history of the Dutch, while in the booklet it says that a story about the first free state assembly is show-cased there.
Walking through the miniature Netherlands, we can see such Dutch landmarks as the Court of the Netherlands, the Anne Frank Museum, the Dutch Maritime Museum in Amsterdam, and small versions of wind turbines and tulip bulb fields. The park also provides great photo opportunities, particularly the large objects, the XL Tulips and the Clogs which serve as excellent props for eternalizing our time there. Another wonderful thing about this place is that visitors can also actively participate, for instance trying out how to set up wind mills to produce energy, or how to operate the Eastern Scheldt storm surge barrier (Oosterscheldekering).
Of course not everything is perfect,
not even in such a small place. Despite the fact that most of the things have an English description in the park, it is not so easy to navigate between the small buildings, and find the “right” order in which they are supposed to be viewed, because there is no indication of which direction to go once you get inside.
All in all, Madurodam is the perfect place to visit if someone wants to see a whole country’s worth of architecture, entertainment, sports and design at one place. Although one always must be prepared for a windy weather in the parks and the fact that even an entire day may not be enough to see it all.
George Maduroplein 1
2584 RZ Den Haag
Open all year round