Scale modelling is amazing. Not in the least because you can literally make a scale model of absolutely anything. You’re interested in history? You can make a scale model of that army or historical figure. Interested in dinosaurs? You can make them too! Ships, boats, and tanks? We got you covered! But one other element that I find absolutely fascinating and adorable is that of miniature towns and railways. I have already visited Miniature Wunderland not all that long ago (and I’ll do an article on that shortly) and Mini Europe was really high up on my list of places to visit!
I’ve always loved miniature cities and towns. I don’t know why, I’ve loved them since I was a kid. You sometimes have these sort of miniature towns at beaches in Britain and they’ve just always captured my imagination. This was no exception! I had wanted to visit Mini Europe since I came to Brussels with my father last year, and I’m glad that this year I was able to go with a friend I staying with.
Mini Europe is a collection of miniature representations of different countries in the European Union. It is set under the ‘symbol of Brussels’ – the Atom, which adds real character to the feel of Mini Europe. Each country is represented by either a small cityscape or by items of significant cultural interest.
Entry was about 15 EUR which isn’t that much, given the scale of the place. It’s pretty large (much more so than I had anticipated from the entrance) and can easily fill up a couple of hours. When approaching each country you have a small board, with the country spelt in its native language and it’s flag. You also have a button you can press which will then play the national anthem of the respective country. It also gave you basic facts about the countries on each of the placards, such as when they joined the European Union, their population at the time, and showed their location on the continent.
They had moving parts to some of the exhibitions, along with some Easter eggs! The main moving parts were trucks or boats, as they meandered around towns or the waterfront. There were some trains too – which I found adorable! Especially as I used to go on the trains in the British section a lot in real life – even in the paint scheme they were in! As for Easter eggs, these were normally cultural icons. For example, by UK section there is a tiny TARDIS next to Westminster whilst there is also Dracula at the doors of Romania and a Milka Cow in the German section (probably the main representation of Switzerland – who is not a EU member, much like Norway).
The exhibits were updated too, interestingly, with a Brexit demonstration going on outside the miniature Westerminister. One wonders if they’ll blow this up Guy Fawkes style once Europe leaves, or if they’ll keep it as an example of how Europe has further changed over time. This would seem appropriate seeing as countries have been added as they’ve come into the European Union.
There were some exhibits which were slightly different too. There was a model of the solar plane and solar boat made in Europe. There was also a large P&O Cruise ship outside of Dover, presumably to show how the UK links to France other than from the Eurostar (less easy or interesting to re-create). There was an oil rig too which was rather cool and very detailed, though the waterline was a little low for the boats which hovered above. I imagine this was just due to the immense heat that had hit the region over the weekend.
There are some interactive exhibits too, including Vesuvius which had smoke billowing from it’s top with a vibrating platform you could stand on as it ‘erupted.’ In France you could run on a platform to either make an art thief run faster, or as the police man to apprehend the subject! Very engaging for children, who almost seemed as excited by the interactive elements as I did. TYhere were various photo opportunities where you could place your face into the body of a cultural icon – such as a Viking, or a Greek Soldier. Naturally, I did all too these, and it was a delight to see the kids get so absolutely excited by these.
Below you’ll find pictures from each country, and after that a Flickr album with the rest of my photos. My only question that I had after visiting, however, is since when was Europe represented by a luminous orange turtle? No, genuinely, this mascot greeted you as you entered and you had your picture taken with it. You could then buy this picture later if. You wanted to offer 10EUR. As the sucker that I am I could not resist and ended up buying mine.
Slideshow of my images from Mini Europe