Holland in Miniature: Madurodam (aka Blog in France Goes Dutch 5).

I was slightly apprehensive about suggesting we go to Madurodam. Madurodam is a miniature city, with a bit of a difference. It’s not one actual city, but features the most famous landmarks from all the cities in Holland, and its countryside. I’d last visited there more than forty years ago. I’d been mesmerised by it at the time, but would it now seem outdated and shabby? Would it appeal to a Generation X girl? Only one way to find it…

Well, we had a brilliant time! I enjoyed it even more this time, and Caiti loved every minute too. We skipped the audiovisuals and after the first one, didn’t bother with any more of the interactive activities at various spots through the park. They were aimed at a younger audience. They were introduced in 2012 to give the park’s popularity a boost. It had seen a drop in visitor numbers but this timely intervention to spruce things up a bit have seen it gaining the huge audience it deserves again.

Madurodam opened in 1952. It was the brainchild of Mrs Boon-van der Starp, who had seen how a miniature village in England, called Bekonscott, was generating funds for a hospital. Mrs B was a member of a foundation for a sanatorium for Dutch students, which was always after more money to enable its good works to continue. So why isn’t the park called Bonvanderstarpodam? Apart from it being a mouthful? It was the parents of Dutch resistance fighter George Maduro who put up the money for the initial investment into creating the miniature city. He died in Dachau in 1945 and was posthumously awarded the highest award for valour that Holland could give. His parents wished to commemorate their son and saw in Mrs B’s proposal the ideal vehicle for doing so in a way that would benefit others. The good work is still being done as all net proceeds from Madurodam go to charity.

The main appeal of Madurodam is, of course, seeing all the fabulous buildings meticulously recreated at a scale of 1:25.

There’s fun stuff too. Here’s Caiti messing around with fake cheeses next to the model of the famous Alkmaar cheese market.

And here she is doing things with water and locks by the polder mills.

For the fee of €1 you could get a pair of clogs (tiny china ones) delivered to you by lorry from the clog factory. Elsewhere we got a mini mars bar straight from the factory for 10 centimes, and also a tulip badge for a euro from the huge bulb packing factory. That came down a long conveyor belt into your waiting hand. Lovely touches!

And who could resist standing in the giant clogs by the shop? Not me.

We had a wonderful couple of hours there and I can’t recommend the place highly enough. It was a fabulous way to finish off my visit to Holland. Sunday night saw me back on the coach heading home, with lovely memories and enough stroopwafels to feed an army!