MiniEurope in Brussels
Mini-Europe is a miniature park located in Bruparck at the foot of the Atomium in Brussels, Belgium. Mini-Europe has the reproductions of the most attractive monuments in the European Union on show, at a scale of 1:25. Roughly 80 cities and 350 buildings are represented. The park is renowned for the quality of its models, some of which cost as much as €350,000 to make (the Brussels Grand-Place). The park contains numerous live action models (train, mills, eruption of Mount Vesuvius, Airbus, cable cars, etc). A guide gives the details on all the monuments. At the end of the visit, the “Spirit of Europe” exhibition gives an interactive overview of the European Union in the form of multimedia games. The park is built on an area of 24,000 m². The initial investment was of €10 million in 1989, on its inauguration by Prince Philip of Belgium.
Building the monuments
The monuments were chosen for the quality of their architecture or their European symbolism. After this initial selection process, plans and photos needed to be found. This stage cost over €200,000 in research. Most of the monuments are made using moulds. The parts are made from various types of material, and then copied using silicone moulding. The final copy used to be cast from epoxy resin, but now polyester is used. Three of the monuments were made out of stone (e.g. the tower of Pisa, in marble). A new computer-assisted milling procedure was used for two of the models. After that comes the painting. Finally, the monument is installed on site, together with decorations and lighting. The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela required more than 24,000 hours of work. Many of the monuments were financed by European countries or regions.
Simulations make this large miniature park livelier – trains, mills, sounds, the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, the fall of the Berlin Wall, gondolas in Venice, cable cars, etc. These live action models are industrial prototypes designed to stand up to the numerous exhibition hours and different seasons (frost, rain, heat).
Ground covers, dwarf trees, bonsais and grafted trees are used alongside miniature monuments, and the paths are adorned with classical bushes and flowers.
The Mini-Europe guide
A descriptive booklet gives copious information and anecdotes about the monuments and the European Union.
Tourism in Brussels
With 300,000 visitors per year and a turnover of 3 million euro, Mini-Europe is one of Brussels’ leading attractions.
List of models
- Madurodam — Model village in Netherlands containing miniature famous Dutch landmarks
- Catalunya en Miniatura — miniature park located 17 km away from Barcelona, with an exhibition area of 35.000 m2 including all major buildings of Catalonia and of Antoni Gaudí
- Bekonscot — typical English village in miniature
- Huis ten Bosch — Japanese theme park modelled on the cities and landscape of the Low Countries