Miniatur Wunderland – The World’s Largest Model Railway

Miniatur Wunderland is a model railway and miniature airport attraction in Speicherstadt district of Hamburg in Germany, known as the largest model railway system in the world. It has been one of the most visited attractions in Germany, attracting millions of tourists annually.

Hamburg is an ideal vacation spot for tourists who love history and architecture, thanks to its cobbled streets, old bridges, and long church spires. Miniatur Wunderland, the world’s largest model railway attraction, Is also found in Hamburg, in the city’s Speicherstadt, an old warehouse district. Imagine a live simulation of Lilliput from Gulliver’s Travels, but only with real, life-like simulations of high-speed vehicles, tracks, iconic buildings, and cityscapes that are central to different cities! That is what we call the Miniatur Wunderland.

Tickets are available to see the miniature versions of France, Italy, North America, Germany, and Scandinavia. Don’t forget to pay attention to the detail that’s gone into designing the world’s largest miniature model railroad system. Friedrich and Gerrit Braun, together with their friend Stephan Hertz, conceived the Miniatur Wunderland. While Frederick Braun enjoyed a holiday in Zurich, a model shop was enough to take him to his childhood dream. The dream of building a model railway station. 

As a result of Gerhard Dauscher’s conviction to make his dream a reality, the team hired other talented artisans to develop original models. As a result, it’s no wonder tourists are increasingly interested in these exhibits. Five months after the initial idea was conceived in July 2000, construction began on the first section. The first three theme worlds of the Miniatur Wunderland opened eight months later, in August 2001.


The Miniatur Wunderland Story

On the same day that Frederik Braun visited Zurich, Switzerland, an alpine city, the story begins. He stumbled upon a railway model shop while strolling through the alleys of Zurich, and it instantly brought back childhood memories for him. 

With the train model shop in view, the inspiration to make a long-forgotten childhood dream a reality grew stronger and stronger after seeing the reminiscence.

Almost immediately afterward, Frederik called his twin brother Gerrit, telling him that they would build the world’s largest model railroad. The more skeptical Gilbert thought that Frederik was insane. He questioned the sincerity of his idea. Nevertheless, Frederik made at least another six calls that day with new ideas for the project, and Gerrit realized just how serious his brother was about the undertaking. 

A technical assessment and an economic analysis of the project followed. Based on the data the brothers collected, they concluded that this project is also economically risky and technologically challenging, and it also requires wild entrepreneurial efforts. Still, without any doubt, the Wunderland team could accomplish it. 

Gerrit also caught the virus of this idea. Together with Stephan Hertz, the two brothers owned a nightclub in Hamburg and planned to break from the nightlife scene.

Frederick, Gerrit, and Stephan then spent the subsequent days and weeks proving the validity of their shared dream despite resistance and doubts from people around them. All three felt that the risky endeavor needed to be undertaken shortly after the “Zurich Epiphany.”

To make their dream come true, they needed to ensure one thing: that the experience they were embarking on would not sabotage their successful nightclub and music label business. 

The team, therefore, also had to ensure they could afford the project. Also, they wanted to be sure that enough people would visit. Another thing was when they had to know it was possible to realize the technical aspect of the project and that there was a place in Hamburg where they could build the largest model railway.

The three decided to carry out a survey to determine whether the visitors would cover the expenditure. The study surveyed about 3,000 people online about tourist sites they would like to visit when visiting Hamburg. 

The places were mostly fictional, and the people were asked to choose which ones they would visit to enjoy their trip. It was rated third by male survey takers but last by female participants. This controversial result did not faze the founding team, who made a thrilling decision: “WE DARE TO BUILD THE WORLD’S LARGEST MODEL RAILWAY.”


What Made Them Choose Hamburg?

The world’s best city is none other than Hamburg. In response to questions about the town, Frederik, Gerrit, and Stephan often use this quote. Hamburg is a deeply rooted part of all three of their identities. They are deeply connected to their city, and they take pride in it. Since then, it was evident to the team that they would certainly build the largest model railway in the world in Hamburg.

Nevertheless, it became difficult to find a suitable place within the bustling city near Elbe. Therefore, it was imperative to find an attractive and easy to reach location for tourists and locals. 

Approximately 2,000 m2 should be allocated on each floor, with a possibility of expanding later. Model railway architecture could not just be anything, and it had to be good! The best part is that all these services are very reasonably priced. 

HHLA (Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG) was initially enthusiastic about the idea, providing rent-free space at Kehrwieder at the Hamburg Board of Economics request. Their search was successful in finding the perfect location.

Why Should I Know About It?

Sometimes the attraction you choose for visiting on a trip is more than a beautiful place or an old monument. Many people find real beauty in art, some in history, and others like modern places to see. Such great things like the Miniatur Wunderland deserve a profound encounter. Do you want to visit them? Ok, so you must read about their background as they are beyond a simple descriptive text! Know the story, then find yourself a part of it!

The Miniatur Wunderland

The Miniatur Wunderland, Hamburg


What Is the Financial Situation of The Miniatur Wunderland?

Upon realizing the scope and depth of the model, it was clear that the project would be extremely costly, and The Frederick team needed a loan to get started. Therefore, they scheduled an appointment with Hamburger Sparkasse (Haspa) and presented a two-page paper outlining their plan and the 2 million German Mark loan they wish to obtain. 

They were all sure that their bank advisor would make fun of them. The dream of a model railway began with two million dollars, two pieces of paper. It would not seem like an attractive investment to a banker.

Unexpectedly, Haspa had approved the loan much quicker than expected. From the outset, it seems that the estimated amount of 2 million Deutsche Mark was wrong: for the time being, the amount stands at 14 million Euro. Thankfully, the number of visitors estimated at that time proved to be bad as well: the Miniatur Wunderland has served more than 1.400.000 visitors to date.

When we hear about the difficulties of founders while starting this project, we can understand how important this Wunderland is. Not only the fancy characters and the nice railway but also the epic efforts of its founders make your visit a blessing!


Construction Time

The Fredrick group developed a concept for a family site that would cater to the taste of every member of the family during the following weeks. A complete model theme world, with trains as only one aspect of the entire theme, should not be behind glass barriers. 

Gerrit Braun described our basic objective as “to build a world that allows you to dream and to be amazed.”.

Based on this concept, and many other ideas, the workgroup contacted Gerhard Dauscher, an internationally recognized German model maker and layout designer from Mühlhausen in Southern Germany. 

Unfortunately, as soon as Gerhard became infected, he ceased all other plans. However, the modelmaking team at the Miniatur Wunderland has been headed by him ever since, and his contribution has undoubtedly contributed to the show’s success.

It was necessary to find a team to begin construction. After more than 150 people applied for a model maker casting, the four men decided to conduct one. 

The casting process was held over two days following the invite. Following this casting, Gerhard Dauscher hand-picked a team of model makers, of whom only one had professional experience, but they were all excellent craftsmen.

Then, as of today, Miniatur Wunderland is still under construction. However, they are already planning to expand the layout to 7,000 m2 by 2028, from the original 1500 m2!


Wunderland, a Philosophical Subject

It is generally thought that Wunderland’s founders were crazy hobbyists and not serious businessmen. Although they now have more than 300 employees, which requires them to act with responsibility and based on a commercial assessment of reasonableness. The company tries to be both a crazy hobbyist as well as a responsible business. 

Two opposites working together are even considered the perfect complement. It’s not enough for the Wunderland team to have a company focused on economic figures and only sees the benefit of generating large profits.

In Wunderland’s view, entrepreneurship is the possibility of making dreams come true and living like one is dreaming. A person can influence the outcomes of their daydream by taking actions, just as they can do in fiction.

The Miniatur Wunderland

The Miniatur Wunderland, Hamburg


Wunderland: From Idea to Reality

Wunderland is at the beginning of the future!

The dream of constructing this bridge is now coming true, and they are excited about the possibilities. They have already begun working on the highlights of this part of the bridge. It is estimated that these projects will occupy most of the space in this warehouse by the end of 2020.

Peace in Monaco is nothing compared to the ear-shattering sound of the Formula 1 race with its engines. Although the race is front and center, the stars and starlets among the audience are sure to draw the crowd’s attention. Talk is likely to be a high-energy activity that will be exhausted soon enough. 36 m2 of Wunderland exhibition space will be occupied by Monaco and Provence.

Provence has an absolute contrast to Wunderland, as in some places, it seems quite chaotic. You will see fields of purple lavender as you wander through this Mediterranean oasis. Nevertheless, this atmospheric section will also include typical buildings for this region.

For the first time, they will be traveling to a country in the southern hemisphere by building this bridge! In addition, as in voyages to distant lands, the world is usually seen from a bird’s perspective as an ocean is crossed. Therefore, it will turn out to be a very pleasant experience to walk across the bridge into the adjacent warehouse.

A discovery tour of South America gets underway after debarking on the other side! There will be a big difference between this exhibition and the previous one.

By 2022, it is expected that Rio and Patagonia will constitute the largest component of this section of the park, with an area of between 200 and 220 square meters. Their model builders are creating fascinating contrasts between big cities like Rio and the wilds of Patagonia. From the perspective of model-building, this is an exciting opportunity.

Furthermore, they will also embark on something unprecedented: to construct authentically, they will already be teaming up with model builders from South America, which will be a perfect source of inspiration for the crew that has already spent several months near Buenos Aires. This way, we’ll be able to show visitors a world that is as spectacular as their model buildings very shortly.

They won’t have had time to catch their breath: Central America and the Caribbean will follow soon after Rio and Patagonia and might be ready by the end of 2024. Regardless of the size of this section, every visitor will bring home the holiday feeling! It has an area of approximately 140 – 160 m2.

In what direction will they go from here? It is not clear whether the company will build more in Asia, Africa, England, or even the Netherlands. However, it is always a given that the real world promises so much inspiration, and if only they had their way, they would never stop building.


Ticket Purchase 

There are no particular steps to acquire a ticket. Yet, it is good to be aware of the advantages and limitations of each method. A benefit of buying an E-Ticket is that there is no waiting time. Also, E-Tickets are environmentally friendly, and you can exchange them. Due to no waiting, you will be able to be faster with Ticket reservations. In addition, it gives you certainty when planning, and it’s cancellable.

Gift Vouchers and tickets are guaranteed to be a perfect present (by mail or print@home). This method allows you to pick the date that works best for you without having to waste time.

The Miniatur Wunderland

The Miniatur Wunderland, Hamburg


Miniatur Wunderland Shop

Take a look at the Miniatur Wunderland’s online store! You will find various postcards, calendars, puzzles, and many more items related to‌ ‌the‌ ‌Miniatur‌ ‌Wunderland.

Many model-making materials from renowned manufacturers (for example, Märklin, Roco, Herpa, Wiking, Vollmer, and Kibri) you can choose from and interesting items and stuff are small and big railways!

Travel guides and tickets for other attractions in Hamburg are also available to help your journey in Hamburg. It is possible to order as a guest or set up a customer account, which is more convenient.


The Art of Making Model Planes Fly Is a Big Wonder

In terms of development at Knuffingen Airport, a large part is dedicated to revealing the takeoff and landing of airplanes in a realistic manner. Car systems airplanes resemble a large Car: they navigate a wire in the roadbed with the aid of a steering magnet and are powered by their engines. The airfield can now be utilized individually by each plane. 

Nonetheless, they were unwilling to let the planes drive up a Plexiglas ramp because that wouldn’t be realistic.

As a result, they began testing ways to let the airplanes take off and land via an external mechanism. Consequently, this would give the illusion that they would fly.

It would have been more visually appealing to hang the plane from razor-thin nylon threads when taking off. Then another question came up: where were the lines to be left once the aircraft landed? In some cases, lack of precision was the biggest problem that caused a group to dismiss this version and others.

For an airplane to drive independently on the ground, it must land exactly on one of the wires of the Carsystem immediately after touchdown. Similarly, the vice versa challenge occurred. For takeoff, they needed to position the fly mechanism to “grab” the objects.

It took a great deal of work and fine-tuning to get the airliner airplanes to land due to the first problem accurately. But there was still the matter of takeoff and touchdown. 

It took carefully searching for a solution that met all their technical requirements and remained visually realistic: their catapult. 

Catapult, This is the name of the device commonly found underneath aircraft carriers’ fairly short runways to ensure planes started. In addition, the company named its unique takeoff device. 

The Wunderland company achieved this with the help of a special machine built by Bosch Rexroth located below the runway. A carriage with two poles emerges from this hole, “skewering” the plane before takeoff by driving them through two tandem holes in the lower side of the plane body. 

Two poles are needed to prevent the plane from tumbling and launching nose-first. As each bar lifts the airplane individually, they raise the plane together as well.

Special covers are installed on the runway to cover the relatively wide slot through which the poles emerge when they take off as soon as the moving bars arrive. 

These doors open and close again immediately behind them. They developed the first-ever self-repairing runway! There is a difference between the carriage movement and the two-pole movements for each plane since a small propeller plane can lift faster than an Airbus A380.

During landing, the process is reversed: each plane lands according to routine, then arrives at its designated landing spot, and the poles retract from the aircraft and sink into the runway. Once this is completed, the plane will move independently according to the Carsystem route of the runway and park at the designated spot.

The Miniatur Wunderland

The Miniatur Wunderland, Hamburg


A Look at the Airport’s Statistics.

It took 150,000 hours of work, 40,000 LED bulbs (all manually installed), 100 kilometers of wiring, 15,000 miniature figures, 1,000 meters of railway tracks, more than 50,000 lines of code, and 4,000,000 Euros to make it: The inauguration of our Knuffingen Airport!

The approximate simulation used the following: Every day, they performed about 250 takeoffs and landings, testing many different systems. 

As already mentioned, they were ultimately forced to choose a catapult to glide their fleet of 47 aircraft.

Additionally, the Airport offers a comprehensive car rental program. Buses, freshwater tanks, pumping engines, push-back cars, catering vehicles, and service vehicles are all available at the Airport, along with the highly equipped Airport Fire Brigade (which responds with up to 14 cars if there is an emergency landing). 


Navigational System

So far, the development of the control mechanism of the ship represents the biggest challenge for the Miniatur Wunderland. The ultimate aim of this project is to create a system that navigates multiple vessels at the same time through Wunderland Oceans. It also allows for a ferry service for smaller piers so that in addition to the current routes, there can also be a ferry service for the smaller ports.

Almost all experts aware of the challenge before the project began in 2004 thought this to be a nearly impossible task. In addition, Gerrit Braun and his team believed time and time again that they had made a breakthrough but faced new obstacles every time.

At present (End of February 2018), tracking is stable over the entire surface of the water – including the fiddle shipyard. The test ship “Jenna,” as well as the cruise ship “AIDA” and the giant container ship “Pacific,” are all fitted with LEDs. 

Slowly, the rest of the fleet will be converted, meaning LEDs will be installed on the boats as they are installed. The refurbishing process takes into account every ship’s characteristics. The LEDs must be “invisible” for the visitors but visible for the cameras to not be obscured by ship structure.

It is impossible to estimate when they will complete the entire fleet since they incorporate this refurbishment process into a ship’s regular servicing schedule.

The computers and the ships are in constant communication. The change in radio control is a crucial step in replacing the current system. 

Computer-connected gaming controllers can now be used to operate ships. Even though it still requires a human to run, all communications are done via the controlling ship system, where the algorithms are developed.


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